LINGUIST List 10.649

Sun May 2 1999

Qs: Advice Re/Blind Students, Adjectives as Nouns

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  1. DAVE GOUGH, Blind linguistics students
  2. Laurie Bauer, Adjectives as nouns

Message 1: Blind linguistics students

Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 20:47:07 +0200
Subject: Blind linguistics students


Need some help. We have a blind student who is studying linguistics
(introductory course). We have arranged for a senior staff member to take
the student under her wing. We would really appreciate any assistance that
any one with experience in teaching blind students could provide us to
assist this student in an informed way.

As a historically disadvantaged university in South Africa (originally
intended for one particular not white population group) an additional
problem is a lack of funding - so our solutions have to be 'cost effective'!


Dave Gough
Department of Linguistics
University of the Western Cape
South Africa

+27 21 959 2978
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Message 2: Adjectives as nouns

Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 10:25:02 +1200
From: Laurie Bauer <>
Subject: Adjectives as nouns

There are two ways in which adjectives are used as nouns in English:
1. The adjective can be used as a nominal head to denote some kind of
generic: _*The rich* can get away with a lot more than *the poor* can_.
Only a restricted set of determiners is possible (because of the generic
reading, I presume), and no plural marking is possible on the adjective.
2. The adjective can take a full range of determiners and nominal
inflections, and in many ways looks like a noun: _*Intellectuals* see both
sides to any question_.

I can't find a really good discussion of either of these, but I think that
the facts for type (1) are clearer than for type (2). In type 1 any
adjective which can be used to modify people can be used with plural
concord to provide a generic group of people, and any adjective which can
be used for inanimates can be used with singular concord to provide a sort
of generic group of things: _*The impossible* takes a little longer_..

My question is: does anyone know of a good discussion of the type 2
adjectives where there are apparent restrictions on what can be done? For
The undesirables have arrived
*The amiables have arrived
*A beautiful is always to be treasured
A romantic has no place in the world of commerce

I will summarise for the list if I get interest in the topic.

Thank you

Laurie Bauer

Programme Director for Linguistics
School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies
Victoria University of Wellington
PO Box 600
New Zealand
Ph +64 4 472 1000 x 8800
Fax +64 4 495 5057
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