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Университет Российской академии образования

по теоретической грамматике
на тему: “Adjective”

                     иностранных языков

Москва, 2001
      The adjective expresses the categorial  semantics  of  property  of  a
substance. It means that  each  adjective  used  in  tile  text  presupposes
relation to some noun the property of whose referent  it  denotes,  such  as
its   material,   colour,   dimensions,   position,   state,    and    other
characteristics both permanent and temporary. It  follows  from  this  that,
unlike nouns, adjectives do not possess a  full  nominative  value.  Indeed,
words like long,  hospitable,  fragrant  cannot  effect  any  self-dependent
nominations;  as  units  of  informative  sequences  they  exist   only   in
collocations showing what is long, who is hospitable, what is fragrant.
      The semantically bound character of the  adjective  is  emphasized  in
English by the use  of  the  prop-substitute  one  in  the  absence  of  the
notional head-noun of the phrase. E.g.:
I don't want a yellow balloon, let me have the  green
one over there.

      On the other hand, if the adjective is placed in a nominatively  self-
dependent position, this leads to its substantivization.  E.g.:  Outside  it
was a beautiful day, and the sun tinged the snow  with  red.  Cf.:  The  sun
tinged the snow with the red colour.
      Adjectives are distinguished by a specific combinability  with  nouns,
which they modify, if not accompanied by adjuncts, usually in  pre-position,
and occasionally in postposition; by a combinability with  link-verbs,  both
functional and notional; by a combinability with modifying adverbs.
      In the sentence the adjective performs the functions of  an  attribute
and a predicative. Of the two, the more specific function of  the  adjective
is that of an  attribute,  since  the  function  of  a  predicative  can  be
performed by the noun as well.  There  is,  though,  a  profound  difference
between the predicative  uses  of  the  adjective  and  the  noun  which  is
determined by their native  categorial  features.  Namely,  the  predicative
adjective expresses some attributive property of its noun-referent,  whereas
the predicative noun expresses various substantival characteristics  of  its
referent, such as its identification or classification of  different  types.
This can be shown on examples analysed by definitional and  transformational
procedures. Cf.:
      You talk to people as if they were a group. —> You talk to  people  as
if they formed a group. Quite obviously, he was a friend. —>  His  behaviour
was like that of a friend.
      Cf., as against the above:

I will be silent as a grave. —> I will be like a silent grave.  Walker  felt
healthy. —> Walker felt a healthy man. It was sensational. —> That fact  was
a sensational fact.

      When  used  as   predicatives   or   post-positional   attributes,   a
considerable number of adjectives, in addition to the general  combinability
characteristics of the whole class, are  distinguished  by  a  complementive
combinability  with  nouns.  The  complement-expansions  of  adjectives  are
effected by means of prepositions. E.g. fond of,  jealous  of,  curious  of,
suspicious of; angry with, sick with, serious about,  certain  about,  happy
about; grateful to, thankful  to, etc.  Many  such  adjectival  collocations
render essentially verbal meanings and some of them have direct or  indirect
parallels among verbs. Cf.: be fond of—love, like; be envious of — envy;  be
angry with — resent; be mad for, about - covet; be thankful to — thank.
      Alongside of other complementive relations expressed with the help  of
prepositions and corresponding to direct and prepositional  object-relations
of verbs, some of these adjectives may render relations of  addressee.  Cf.:
grateful to, indebted to, partial to, useful  for.
      To the derivational features of adjectives belong a number of suffixes
and prefixes of which the most important are:
-ful  (hopeful),  -less  (flawless),-ish  (bluish,   -ous   (famous),   -ive
(decorative), -ic  (basic);  un-  (unprecedented),  in-  (inaccurate),  pre-
Among  the  adjectival  affixes  should  also  be  named  the   prefix   a-,
constitutive for the stative sub-class which is to be discussed below.
      As for the variable (demutative) morphological features,  the  English
adjective, having lost in the course of  the  history  of  English  all  its
forms of grammatical agreement with the noun, is distinguished only  by  the
hybrid category of comparison.

      All  the  adjectives  are  traditionally  divided   into   two   large
subclasses: qualitative and relative.
      Relative adjectives express such properties  of  a  substance  as  are
determined by the direct relation of the substance to some other  substance.

      E.g.: wood — a  wooden  hut;  mathematics  —  mathematical  precision;
history — a historical event;
table — tabular presentation; colour — coloured postcards;
surgery — surgical treatment; the Middle Ages — mediaeval rites.

The nature  of  this  "relationship"  in  adjectives  is  best  revealed  by
definitional correlations. Cf.: a wooden  hut  —  a  hut  made  of  wood;  a
historical event — an event  referring  to  a  certain  period  of  history;
surgical treatment — treatment consisting in the implementation of  surgery;
      Qualitative  adjectives,  as  different  from  relative  ones,  denote
various qualities of substances which admit of  a  quantitative  estimation,
i.e. of establishing their correlative quantitative measure. The measure  of
a quality  can  be  estimated  as  high  or  low,  adequate  or  inadequate,
sufficient or insufficient, optimal or excessive. Cf.: an awkward  situation
— a very awkward situation; a difficult task —  too  difficult  a  task;  an
enthusiastic reception — rather an enthusiastic reception; a hearty  welcome
— not a very hearty welcome; etc.
      In this connection, the ability of an adjective  to  form  degrees  of
comparison is usually taken as a formal sign of its  qualitative  character,
in opposition to a relative adjective which is understood  as  incapable  of
forming degrees  of  comparison  by  definition.  Cf.:  a  pretty  girl  --a
prettier girl; a quick look —  a  quicker  look;  a  hearty  welcome  —  the
heartiest of welcomes; a bombastic speech — the most bombastic speech.
      However, in actual speech the described principle  of  distinction  is
not at all strictly observed, which is noted in the very  grammar  treatises
putting it forward. Two typical cases of  contradiction  should  be  pointed
out here.
      In the first place, substances  can  possess  such  qualities  as  are
incompatible  with  the  idea  of  degrees   of   comparison.   Accordingly,
adjectives denoting these qualities,  while  belonging  to  the  qualitative
subclass,  are  in  the  ordinary  use  incapable  of  forming  degrees   of
comparison. Here refer  adjectives  like  extinct,  immobile,  deaf,  final,
fixed, etc.
      In the second place, many adjectives considered under the  heading  of
relative still  can  form  degrees  of  comparison,  thereby,  as  it  were,
transforming the denoted relative property of a substance into such  as  can
be graded quantitatively.  Cf.:  a  mediaeval  approach—rather  a  mediaeval
approach — a far more mediaeval approach; of a military design — of  a  less
military design — of a more military design;
a grammatical topic ~ a purely grammatical topic — the most  grammatical  of
the suggested topics.
      In  order  to  overcome  the  demonstrated  lack  of  rigour  in   the
definitions  in  question,  we  may  introduce  an   additional   linguistic
distinction which is more adaptable to the chances of usage.  The  suggested
distinction is based on the evaluative function of adjectives. According  as
they actually give some qualitative evaluation to the substance referent  or
only  point  out  its  corresponding  native  property,  all  the  adjective
functions   may   be   grammatically   divided   into    "evaluative"    and
"specificative". In particular, one and the same adjective, irrespective  of
its being basically (i.e. in the sense of the fundamental semantic  property
of its root constituent) "relative" or "qualitative", can be used either  in
the evaluative function or in the specificative function.
      For instance, the adjective good  is  basically  qualitative.  On  the
other hand, when employed as  a  grading  term  in  teaching,  i.e.  a  term
forming part of the marking scale  together  with  the  grading  terms  bad,
satisfactory, excellent, it acquires the said specificative value; in  other
words,  it  becomes  a  specificative,  not  an  evaluative  unit   in   the
grammatical sense
(though, dialectically, it does signify in this case  a  lexical  evaluation
of the pupil's progress). Conversely,  the  adjective  wooden  is  basically
relative,  but  when  used  in  the  broader  meaning  "expressionless"   or
"awkward" it acquires an evaluative force and, consequently, can  presuppose
a greater or lesser  degree  ("amount")  of  the  denoted  properly  in  the
corresponding referent. E.g.:

Bundle found  herself  looking  into  the  expressionless,  wooden  face  of
Superintendent Battle (A. Christie). The superintendent was  sitting  behind
a table and looking more wooden than ever.

      The  degrees  of  comparison  are  essentially  evaluative   formulas,
therefore any adjective used in a  higher  comparison  degree  (comparative,
superlative) is thereby made into an evaluative adjective, if only  for  the
nonce (see the examples above).
      Thus,  the  introduced  distinction   between   the   evaluative   and
specificative uses of adjectives, in the long run, emphasizes the fact  that
the  morphological  category   of   comparison   (comparison   degrees)   is
potentially  represented  in  the  whole  class   of   adjectives   and   is
constitutive for it.

      Among the words signifying properties of a nounal referent there is  a
lexemic set which claims to be recognized as  a  separate  part  of  speech,
i.e. as a class of words different from the adjectives in its  class-forming
features. These are words built up by the prefix a- and  denoting  different
states, mostly of temporary  duration.  Here  belong  lexemes  like  afraid,
agog, adrift, ablaze. In traditional  grammar  these  words  were  generally
considered under the heading of "predicative adjectives" (some of them  also
under the heading of adverbs), since their  most  typical  position  in  the
sentence is that of a predicative and they are but occasionally used as pre-
positional attributes to nouns.
      Notional words signifying states and specifically used as predicatives
were first identified as a separate part of speech in the  Russian  language
by L. V. Shcherba and V. V. Vinogradov. The two scholars  called  the  newly
identified part of speech the "category  of  state"  (and,  correspondingly,
separate words making up this category, "words of the category  of  state").
Here belong the Russian words mostly ending in -o,  but  also  having  other
suffixes: тепло, зябко, одиноко, радостно, жаль,  лень,  etc.  Traditionally
the Russian words of the category of state were considered  as  constituents
of (he class of adverbs, and they are  still  considered  as  such  by  many
Russian schiolars.
      On the analogy  of  the  Russian  "category  of  state",  the  English
qualifying a-words of the corresponding meanings were subjected to a lexico-
grammatical analysis and  given  the  part-of-speech  heading  "category  of
slate". This analysis  was  first  conducted  by  B.  A.  llyish  and  later
continued by other linguists. The term "words of  the  category  of  state",
being rather cumbersome from the technical point of view, was later  changed
into "stative words", or "statives".
      The part-of-speech interpretation of the statives is not shared by all
linguists working  in  the  domain  of  English,  and  has  found  both  its
proponents and opponents.
Probably the most consistent and explicit exposition of  the  part-of-speech
interpretation of statives has been given by B.  S.  Khaimovich  and  B.  I.
Rogovskaya. Their theses supporting the view in question can  be  summarized
as follows.
      First, the statives, called by the quoted authors "adlinks" (by virtue
of their  connection  with  link-verbs  and  on  the  analogy  of  the  term
"adverbs"), are allegedly opposed to adjectives on a purely semantic  basis,
since adjectives denote "qualities", and statives-adlinks  denote  "states".
Second, as different from adjectives, statives-adlinks are characterized  by
the specific prefix a-. Third, they allegedly do not  possess  the  category
of the degrees of comparison. Fourth, the combinability of  statives-adlinks
is different from that of adjectives in so far as they are not used  in  the
pre-positional attributive function, i.e. are characterized by  the  absence
of the right-hand combinability with nouns.
      The advanced reasons, presupposing many-sided categorial estimation of
statives, are undoubtedly serious  and  worthy  of  note.  Still,  a  closer
consideration of the properties of the analysed lexemic set cannot but  show
that, on the whole, the said reasons are hardly instrumental in proving  the
main idea, i.e. in establishing the English stative as a  separate  part  of
speech. The re-consideration of the stative on the basis of comparison  with
the classical adjective inevitably discloses (lie  fundamental  relationship
between the two, — such relationship as should be interpreted  in  no  other
terms  than  identity  on  the  part-of-speech  level,  though,   naturally,
providing for their distinct differentiation on the subclass level.
      The first scholar who undertook this kind of re-consideration  of  the
lexemic status of English  statives  was  L.  S.  Barkhudarov,  and  in  our
estimation of them we essentially follow his principles, pointing  out  some
additional criteria of argument.
      First, considering the basic meaning  expressed  by  the  stative,  we
formulate it as "stative property", i.e. a kind  of  property  of  a  nounal
referent. As we already  know,  the  adjective  as  a  whole  signifies  not
"quality" in  the  narrow  sense,  but  "property",  which  is  categorially
divided into "substantive quality as such" and  "substantive  relation".  In
this  respect,  statives  do  not  fundamentally   differ   from   classical
adjectives. Moreover, common adjectives and  participles  in  adjective-type
functions can express the same, or,  more  specifically,  typologically  the
same properties (or "qualities" in a broader  sense)  as  are  expressed  by
      Indeed, the main meaning types conveyed by statives are:
the psychic state of a person (afraid, ashamed, aware); the  physical  state
of a person (astir, afoot); the physical state of an object (afire,  ablaze,
aglow); the state of an object in space (askew, awry, aslant).  Meanings  of
the same order are rendered by pre-positional adjectives. Cf.:

the living predecessor — the predecessor alive; eager curiosity —  curiosity
agog; the burning house — the house afire; a floating raft — a raft  afloat;
a half-open door — a door adjar; slanting ropes — ropes aslant;  a  vigilant
man — a man awake;
similar cases — cases alike; an excited crowd  — a crowd astir.

   It goes without saying that many other adjectives and participles  convey
the meanings of various states irrespective of their analogy with  statives.
Cf. such words of the order of psychic state as despondent, curious,  happy,
joyful;  such  words  of  the  order  of  human  physical  state  as  sound,
refreshed, healthy, hungry; such words of the order  of  activity  state  as
busy, functioning, active, employed, etc.
   Second, turning to the combinability characteristics of statives, we  see
that, though differing from those of the  common  adjectives  in  one  point
negatively, they basically coincide with them in  the  other  points.  As  a
matter of fact, statives are not  used  in  attributive  pre-position.  but,
like  adjectives,  they  are  distinguished  by  the  left-hand   categorial
combinability both with nouns and link-verbs. Cf.:
The household was nil  astir.——The  household  was  all  excited  —  It  was
strange to see (the household active at  this  hour  of  the  day.—  It  was
strange to see the household active at this hour of the day.
      Third, analysing the functions of the  stative  corresponding  to  its
combinability patterns, we see that essentially they do not differ from  the
functions of the common adjective. Namely, the two basic  functions  of  the
stative are the predicative and the attribute. The similarity  of  functions
leads to the possibility of the use of a stative and a common  adjective  in
a homogeneous group. E.g.: Launches and  barges  moored  to  the  dock  were
ablaze and loud with wild sound.
      True, the predominant function of the stative, as different  from  the
common adjective, is that  of  the  predicative.  But  then,  the  important
structural and functional  peculiarities  of  statives  uniting  them  in  a
distinctly separate set of lexemes cannot be disputed. What is  disputed  is
the status of this set in relation to the notional parts of speech, not  its
existence or identification as such.
      Fourth, from our point of view, it would not be quite consistent  with
the actual lingual data to place the stative strictly out  of  the  category
of comparison. As we  have  shown  above,  the  category  of  comparison  is
connected with the functional division of  adjectives  into  evaluative  and
specificative,  Like  common  adjectives,  statives  are  subject  to   this
flexible  division,  and  so  in  principle  they  are  included  into   the
expression of the quantitative estimation of  the  corresponding  properties
conveyed by them. True, statives do not take the synthetical  forms  of  the
degrees of  comparison,  but  they  are  capable  of  expressing  comparison
analytically, in cases where it is to be expressed.
Cf.: Of us all, Jack was the one most aware of  the  delicate  situation  in
which we found ourselves. I saw that the  adjusting  lever  stood  far  more
askew than was allowed by the directions.
      Fifth, quantitative considerations, though being a  subsidiary  factor
of reasoning, tend to support the conjoint part-of-speech interpretation  of
statives and common adjectives. Indeed, the total number  of  statives  does
not exceed several dozen (a couple  of  dozen  basic,  "stable"  units  and,
probably, thrice as many "unstable" words of the nature of coinages for  the
nonce). This number is negligible in comparison with the number of words  of
the otherwise identified notional parts of speech,  each  of  them  counting
thousands of units. Why, then, an honour of the part-of-speech status to  be
granted to a small group of words not differing in their fundamental lexico-
grammatical features from one of the established large word-classes?
      As for the  set-forming  prefix  a-,  it  hardly  deserves  a  serious
consideration as a formal basis  of  the  part-of-speech  identification  of
statives simply because formal features cannot be taken  in  isolation  from
functional features. Moreover, as is known, there are words of property  not
distinguished  by  this   prefix,   which   display   essential   functional
characteristics inherent in the stative  set.  In  particular,  here  belong
such adjectives as ill, well, glad, sorry, worth (while), subject (to),  due
(to), underway, and  some  others.  On  the  other  hand,  among  the  basic
statives we find such as can hardly be analysed into a  genuine  combination
of the type "prefix + root",  because  their  morphemic  parts  have  become
fused into one indivisible unit in the  course  of  language  history,  e.g.
aware, afraid, aloof.
      Thus, the undertaken  semantic  and  functional  analysis  shows  that
statives, though forming a  unified  set  of  words,  do  not  constitute  a
separate lexemic class existing in language on exactly the same  footing  as
the noun, the verb, the adjective, the adverb; rather it  should  be  looked
upon  as  a  subclass  within  the  general  class  of  adjectives.  It   is
essentially  an  adjectival  subclass,  because,  due  to   their   peculiar
features, statives are not directly opposed to the notional parts of  speech
taken  together,  but  are  quite  particularly  opposed  to  the  rest   of
adjectives. It means that the general  subcategorization  of  the  class  of
adjectives should be effected on the two levels:  on  the  upper  level  the
class will be divided into the subclass of  stative  adjectives  and  common
adjectives; on the lower level the common adjectives fall  into  qualitative
and relative, which division has been discussed in the foregoing paragraph.
      As we see, our final conclusion about the lexico-grammatical nature of
statives appears to have returned them into  the  lexemic  domain  in  which
they were placed by traditional grammar and from which they  were  alienated
in the course of  subsequent  linguistic  investigations.  A  question  then
arises,  whether  these  investigations,  as   well   as   the   discussions
accompanying them, have served any rational purpose at all.
      The answer to  this  question,  though,  can  only  be  given  in  the
energetic  affirmative.  Indeed,  all  the  detailed  studies  of   statives
undertaken by quite a few scholars, all  the  discussions  concerning  their
systemic location and  other  related  matters  have  produced  very  useful
results, both theoretical and practical.
The traditional view of  the  stative  was  not  supported  by  any  special
analysis, it was formed on the grounds of mere surface analogies  and  outer
correlations. The later study of statives  resulted  in  the  exposition  of
their inner properties, in the discovery of  their  historical  productivity
as a subclass, in their systemic  description  on  the  lines  of  competent
inter-class and inter-level comparisons. And it is  due  to  the  undertaken
investigations (which certainly will be continued) that  we  are  now  in  a
position, though having rejected the fundamental separation of  the  stative
from the adjective,  to  name  the  subclass  of  statives  as  one  of  the
peculiar, idiomatic lexemic features of Modern English.

      As is widely known,  adjectives  display  the  ability  to  be  easily
substantivized by conversion,  i.e.  by  zero-derivation.  Among  the  noun-
converted adjectives we find both old units, well-established in the  system
of lexicon, and also new ones, whose adjectival  etymology  conveys  to  the
lexeme the vivid colouring of a new coinage.
      For instance, the words a relative or  a  white  or  a  dear  bear  an
unquestionable mark of  established  tradition,  while  such  a  noun  as  a
sensitive used in the following sentence  features  a  distinct  flavour  of
purposeful conversion: He  was  a  regional  man,  a  man  who  wrote  about
sensitives who live away from the places where things happen.
      Compare this with the noun  a  high  in  the  following  example:  The
weather report promises a new high in heat and humidity.
      From the purely  categorial  point  of  view,  however,  there  is  no
difference between the adjectives cited in the examples and the  ones  given
in  the  foregoing  enumeration,   since   both   groups   equally   express
constitutive categories of the noun, i.e. the number, the case, the  gender,
the article determination, and they likewise equally perform  normal  nounal
      On the other hand, among the substantivized adjectives there is a  set
characterized by hybrid lexico-grammatical features,  as  in  the  following

The new bill concerning the wage-freeze introduced by the Labour  Government
cannot satisfy either the poor, or the rich (Radio  Broadcast).  A  monster.
The word conveyed the ultimate in infamy  and  debasement  inconceivable  to
one not native to the  times  (J.  Vance).  The  train,  indulging  all  his
English nostalgia for the plushy and the genteel, seemed  to  him  a  deceit
(M. Bradbury).

      The mixed categorial nature of the exemplified words is  evident  from
their incomplete presentation  of  the  part-of  speech  characteristics  of
either nouns or adjectives. Like nouns, the words are used  in  the  article
form; like nouns, they express the  category  of  number  (in  a  relational
way); but their article and number forms are rigid, being no subject to  the
regular structural  change  inherent  in  the  normal  expression  of  these
categories. Moreover, being categorially unchangeable, the words 

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