Университет Российской академии образования
по теоретической грамматике
на тему: “Adjective”
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- (premature).
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; etc.
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 statives.
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