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LINGUIST List 22.2083

Sun May 15 2011

Confs: General Linguistics/Netherlands

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        1.     Esrih Bakker , Representation of Gradability

Message 1: Representation of Gradability
Date: 13-May-2011
From: Esrih Bakker <j.e.bakkerhum.leidenuniv.nl>
Subject: Representation of Gradability
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Representation of Gradability

Date: 06-Jun-2011 - 07-Jun-2011
Location: Leiden, Netherlands
Contact: Camelia Constantinescu
Contact Email: c.constantinescuhum.leidenuniv.nl
Meeting URL: http://hum.leiden.edu/lucl/gradability/

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Meeting Description:

On 6 and 7 June LUCL will host a workshop on the representation of gradability,
organized by members of the NWO VIDI-project Degrees across categories.

The topic of this workshop is the formal representation of gradability as it
shows up in natural language. Gradability is mostly discussed in the context of
adjectives, where it is signaled by the use of certain degree modifiers or
degree operators such as very. For example, tall is a gradable adjective, while
parliamentary is not. Thus, one can be very tall, but a speech cannot be very
parliamentary (cf. Bolinger 1972).

Gradability is most often represented in terms of a degree argument (Cresswell
1976, Kennedy 1999, von Stechow 1984). Alternatively, it has been argued that
gradability is uniquely based on the ordering between individuals in the set
defined by the gradable predicate (Klein 1982, van Rooij 2008, van Rooij to
appear, Doetjes, Constantinescu & Sou?ková to appear). Within both types of
approaches several variants have been developed, and besides these, other
proposals have been made in the recent literature, e.g. a representation in
terms of vectors (Zwarts and Winter 2000, Faller 2000), tropes (Moltmann 2009),
equivalence classes (Bale 2006, Neeleman, Van de Koot & Doetjes 2004) and analog
magnitudes/ blurry degrees (cf. Fults 2006, ms.).

This workshop aims at discussing and comparing ways in which gradability can be
represented. Rather than limiting ourselves to the standard type of data
(basically: gradable adjectives in English), we hope to get input from cross
categorial as well as cross linguistic data.

As already pointed out by Bolinger and even long before that by Sapir (1944),
gradable expressions are not necessarily adjectival. Both nouns (idiot) and
verbs (to appreciate) may be gradable. Comparing the noun idiot and the
adjective idiotic, one can see that there is no complete parallel between these
two domains. Take for instance the expression of high degree, which is expressed
by very in the case of the adjective and by big in the case of the noun. It is
by no means obvious whether very and big have exactly the same semantic function
and whether they occupy the same position in the syntactic tree (cf. Morzycki
2009, who is one of the few authors who seriously tries to implement degrees
into the nominal system). Likewise, the striking similarity between quantity
modification and degree modification (cf. more, which is both a quantity
expression as in more books and a degree operator as in more interesting) begs
for an explanation. If there is a degree argument for gradable adjectives, does
that mean that one would like to adopt a 'quantity' argument for plurals and
mass nouns? Why are these elements sensitive to the presence of a part of
relation ('monotonicity'), when combined with nouns as indicated by
Schwarzschild (2006), while they can be combined with adjectives, even though
adjectives lack such a structure?

On the other hand, even within the adjectival domain, there is quite a lot of
cross linguistic variation in the way comparison relations are expressed
(Stassen 1985, Beck, Oda & Sugisaki 2004, Kennedy 2007). Beck, Oda & Sugisaki
propose that there is variation among languages with respect to the syntax of
degrees. Moreover, based on the cross-linguistic survey by Stassen, they raise
the question whether all languages make use of degrees in their ontology. The
important question then arises whether gradability is and should be uniformly
represented cross-linguistically.

Monday 6 June

Coffee and Registration


Robert van Rooij (University of Amsterdam)
Prototypes and the Predominance of Interval-scales

Alan Bale (Concordia University)
Context and Multi-dimensional Adjectives


Scott Fults (University of Maryland)
Vagueness, Measurement, and Numbers


Friederike Moltmann (CNRS, Université Paris 1)
Gradability within a Trope-Based Approach


Sigrid Beck (Universität Tübingen)

Roger Schwarzschild (Rutgers University)
The Marking of the Comparative


Tuesday 7 June


Marcin Morzycki (Michigan State University)
Flavors of Adnominal Degree Modification

Camelia Constantinescu, Jenny Doetjes, Kate?ina Sou?ková (Leiden University)
Vague Predicates and the Representation of Gradable Nouns


Rick Nouwen (Utrecht University)
'Quite' between Degree Modification and Exclamation


Yoad Winter (Utrecht University)
Adjective Modifiers and Modified Adjectives


Joost Zwarts (Utrecht University)
Measuring Time in Prepositional Phrases

Chris Kennedy (University of Chicago)
Incremental Themes: 'Measuring out' is Measuring Change


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