Author Topic: What are nec and sufficient conditions for you to agree that a lang lacked adjs?  (Read 8089 times)

Offline zaba

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Let's say I hedge that a language X lacks adjectives. I show you that they adjectival forms actually decline like nouns (when they are heads in a NP -- but otherwise are undeclined). I also show that if they take tense, they must verbalise first.

e.g. 'good'
GOOD-comparative.case = 'like'
1subj-3obj-make.verbalizer-GOOD = 'I heal her.'
GOOD-pl = 'good (ones)'

Is this a convincing analysis? If not, what would you need?




Offline Jase

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Let's say I hedge that a language X lacks adjectives. I show you that they adjectival forms actually decline like nouns (when they are heads in a NP -- but otherwise are undeclined). I also show that if they take tense, they must verbalise first.

e.g. 'good'
GOOD-comparative.case = 'like'
1subj-3obj-make.verbalizer-GOOD = 'I heal her.'
GOOD-pl = 'good (ones)'

Is this a convincing analysis? If not, what would you need?

You've completely lost me. Are you saying that verbalizing "good" becomes "heal"? That's odd. Why wouldn't it be "do good," "treat well" or "perform good deeds (for)"?
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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Offline zaba

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sure, Jase. GOOD + the MAKE-Verbalizer (a sort of factive) transforms `good' to `make good' = in the sense of heal.

Offline Jase

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sure, Jase. GOOD + the MAKE-Verbalizer (a sort of factive) transforms `good' to `make good' = in the sense of heal.

What language are you talking about? You must be referring a specific language that does this.

I’m a speaker of Hebrew, and in Hebrew we have causative structures that can be added to roots to create this sense. For example, the root ט.ו.ב (ṭ-w-b) forms the adjective טוֹב (ṭôḇ “good”), the adverb הֵיטֵב (hêṭēḇ “well”) and the verb הֵטִיב (hēṭîḇ “he did well/good”). All three are tied into the single root, and this happens a lot in the language.

However, the concept of “healing” is tied into a different root (ר.פ.א r-p̄-ɂ). In what language is the root associated with “good” also associated with the concept of “healing”?
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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Offline zaba

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it's not so surprising if one considers good/well + factive = make-well (as in 'the doctor made me well again')... anyway, this conversation is getting derailed from my original question!

Offline MalFet

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How would you say something like "Pass me the blue book." or "The book is blue."?

Offline zaba

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Quote
"Pass me the blue book." or "The book is blue."?

Below!
Blue book-accusative 2subj-1obj-pass
Book blue

Note how in the first sentence, the word book is accusative marked, but not blue. In a np, the head is obligatorily marked for case and the modifier is optionally so.



Offline MalFet

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I'm not really following, I must confess. That looks like a pretty run-of-the-mill adjective to me.

(And, just as a side note: it's sometimes very tough to read your glosses because (a) you're leaving out the source language transcription and (b) you're using non-standard labels. The Leipzig glossing conventions (http://www.eva.mpg.de/lingua/resources/glossing-rules.php) are what most disciplines use.)

Offline zaba

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My argument is simple (even if my glosses aren't!)

1. Adjectives can receive nominal morphology (e.g. plural and case declension); for example big-PL 'the big (ones)'
2. Adjectives can also receive verbal morphology (e.g. tense) but must first receive verbal affixes, for example, big-PL-VERBALIZER-3sg 'they are small'

Therefore, adjectives are actually nouns, i.e. there is no separate category of "adjectives" in this language.
Is this a cogent argument?

Offline Jase

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My argument is simple (even if my glosses aren't!)

1. Adjectives can receive nominal morphology (e.g. plural and case declension); for example big-PL 'the big (ones)'
2. Adjectives can also receive verbal morphology (e.g. tense) but must first receive verbal affixes, for example, big-PL-VERBALIZER-3sg 'they are small'

Therefore, adjectives are actually nouns, i.e. there is no separate category of "adjectives" in this language.
Is this a cogent argument?

I have to agree with the user above. big-PL is certainly not English. What language is it from? Hebrew has adjectives that can act as substantives (NPs) without fillers like one or ones in English. Could you lay out exactly what language you’re referring to and give examples in the language itself along with glosses to explain what you’re trying to describe? Are you attempting to play silly games with us? What’s up
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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Offline MalFet

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Most languages provide ways to shuttle morphemes between word categories. Sometimes the transformation adopts a phonetic exponent ("small-ness"), but sometimes not ("three smalls").

To argue that there aren't actually lexical adjectives, on the other hand, requires quite a bit more information. Specifically, you want to analyze the distributional criteria of semantic "things" and "properties". I suspect you'll find some restrictions, though it's possible you won't.

In any case, if you have phrases like "the blue book", the fact that you might also have a phrase "the blues" doesn't actually suggest that "blue" was covertly a noun all along. That's where I'm losing you I think. If this language doesn't have adjectives, and consequently if "blue" in "the blue book" isn't an adjective, what is it?

Offline MalFet

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I have to agree with the user above. big-PL is certainly not English. What language is it from? Hebrew has adjectives that can act as substantives (NPs) without fillers like one or ones in English. Could you lay out exactly what language you’re referring to and give examples in the language itself along with glosses to explain what you’re trying to describe? Are you attempting to play silly games with us? What’s up

Easy there...no need to start slinging around accusations.

Many languages (including English) nominalize adjectives. In fact, big-PL ("the bigs") is perfectly familiar English among aspiring baseball players.

Offline Jase

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Easy there...no need to start slinging around accusations.

Many languages (including English) nominalize adjectives. In fact, big-PL ("the bigs") is perfectly familiar English among aspiring baseball players.

I just feel odd that we’re not being clued in on what language the author of the post is talking about. He’s asking in generalities that would be better handled if we knew what language it was and could tackle specific examples of phrases from the language. It’s certainly a valid question that’s been evaded until now.
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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Offline ibarrere

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I just feel odd that we’re not being clued in on what language the author of the post is talking about. He’s asking in generalities that would be better handled if we knew what language it was and could tackle specific examples of phrases from the language. It’s certainly a valid question that’s been evaded until now.

There is a benefit to talking about language in a general sense, too. The point of the exercise, I think, is to address how to talk about such a phenomenon without being bound to a particular language's functionality. Much of theoretical linguistics attempts to define universals, so I don't see it as a problem to omit real world examples, hypothetical examples can be just as powerful.
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Offline Jase

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I just feel odd that we’re not being clued in on what language the author of the post is talking about. He’s asking in generalities that would be better handled if we knew what language it was and could tackle specific examples of phrases from the language. It’s certainly a valid question that’s been evaded until now.

There is a benefit to talking about language in a general sense, too. The point of the exercise, I think, is to address how to talk about such a phenomenon without being bound to a particular language's functionality. Much of theoretical linguistics attempts to define universals, so I don't see it as a problem to omit real world examples, hypothetical examples can be just as powerful.

Do you think it’s as useful as pulling examples from several languages (for the purposes of demonstrating a universal character of grammar) or from a single language (to demonstrate its uniqueness from other languages)? That seems more powerful and more meaningful. I mean, we are all apparently having a hard time grasping what the poster’s point is, since he is using examples that are not true for English (such as adding a verbalizer to “good” to mean “heal”). It is hard to imagine that a language actually does that without receiving an example of a language in which that is true.

Perhaps it’s just a lack of clarity in the posts. Does he mean to say, for example, that a doctor “makes someone well” as a way of saying that she “heals” the person? In that case, we should probably take “well” in a homonymous sense, seeing that it can mean both good.ADV or “healthy.” Does the poster mean something else? I’m having a hard time following the line of reasoning.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2014, 03:29:02 PM by Jase »
Just getting into syntax. Appreciate any help I can find here.
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