Adjectives and the organization of lexical inventories

David Beck

Abstract


A definition lexical classes is proposed based on the mapping between the prototypical semantic and the unmarked syntactic properties of nouns and verbs which at once captures cross-linguistic generalizations made by previous authors and at the same time explains the typological variation shown in parts of speech systems. Adjectives are the most marked class and that most susceptible to neutralization across languages, which vary with respect to whether or not a class of adjectives is present and, if not, which of the two remaining classes serve the adjectival function of unmarked modifier. Choices as to which of the criterial features of the adjectival class are active in a given language are crucial to determining the underlying shape of the lexical inventory, which in turn has important consequences for the grammar of a language, as shown by an examination of Salish, a verb-adjective conflating family of languages.

Keywords


Lexical Classes Nouns; Verbs; Adjectives; Salish

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