LINGUIST List 3.465

Sat 06 Jun 1992

Disc: Adjectives, Compounds

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  1. Robert Beard, 3.454 Adjectives
  2. Richard Sproat, _unhappier_
  3. Greg Stump, the _unhappier_ paradox
  4. , Re: Query: X-bar and VP
  5. Arnold D J, 3.452 Query: X-bar and VP

Message 1: 3.454 Adjectives

Date: 03 Jun 1992 08:58:05 EDT
From: Robert Beard <>
Subject: 3.454 Adjectives

 I would like to do two things in response to the Stump-
Sproat debate: (1) present a simple explanation of the relation
of comparison and negation and (2) take issue with Sproat's
point (4), that all morphological theories render bracketing
paradoxes for cases like _unhappier_. Obviously theories
without bracketing have no bracketing paradoxes; the question
is: do they have comparable problems. I don't see any.
 1a. There are only two logically possible bracketings for
_unhappier_: (a) [unhappi]er and (b) un[happier]. (a) implies
the neutral, lexically negated adjective _unhappy_ is compared;
(b) implies that the compared adjective _happier_ is lexically
negated. (Syntactic negation is marked by the particle_not_
in English. The evidence that it is syntactic derives from the
facts that _not_ (a) moves in syntax and (b) simply negates;
it doesn't involve such conditioned variables as contrariness,
reversivity, etc.)
 1b. Comparative and Superlative forms are never lexically
negated because Comparison is an inflectional category and is
therefore formed after lexical (L-) derivation. Evidence: many
languages have an analytical comparative, _more happy_, _less
happy_, which require syntactic structure. Since inflectional
rules apply in syntax (please don't risk much of your career on
the assumption that it doesn't), Comparison must apply after all
L-derivation is complete. It follows that *un[happier] is impos-
sible for the same reason that *_unbetter_, *_unsicker_,
*_unfaster_, *_untaller_, etc. are.
 1c. Conclusion: The only grammatically possible bracketing
for _unhappier_ is [unhappi]er], precisely what we get. Phono-
logy has to work with that and, as long as we are not trying
to salvage lexical phonology, it can. Given the Peripherality
(Outward Sensitivity) Constraint, there are always only two ways
to bracket any word and those two ways are determined by whether
the affixation involves a prefix or suffix. Moreover, bracketing
makes no sense at all with infixation, revowelling, stem muta-
tions. How do you bracket the noun _cook_ so that the corres-
pondence rules interprets it identically as _baker_? The question
makes no sense. As Steve Anderson, Mark Aronoff, P. H. Matthews,
myself, and many others have long argued, there is no bracketing
therefore there can be no bracketing paradoxes. That is, all
bracketing is predictable from the minimum definitions of the
morphemes involved.
 2. It is not true therefore wrong that all theories
predict that _unhappier_ is a bracketing paradox and therefore
produce a story for it. Lexical morphology predicts paradoxes
here but Lexeme-Morpheme Base theories (LMBM) do not. The lexicon
under LMBM contains all and only open-class items, i.e. N, V, A
excluding pro-N, pro-V, and pro-A: the same division Garrett gets
in his production model, the same division which haunts aphasio-
logical studies. The Separation Hypothesis now derives from the
architecture of this model and the strongest form of modularity
which keeps all lexical categories and operations in the lexicon,
all syntactic categories and operations in the lexicon and all
morphological operations, the grammatically empty modification of
lexemes conditioned by features added by lexical and syntactic
operations, in an autonomous morphological spelling component.
So long as derivational operations apply in the appropriate
order, spelling operations--affixation, revowelling, mutation,
nothing--apply blindly and come out in the correct order, stra-
tally or not, this makes no difference.
 The data. Phonological principles alone cannot define the
distribution of _-er_. Here's why: the distribution of synthetic
comparision in English cannot be predicted purely on phonological
principles. (What sort of natural class is "all monosyllabic stems
and disyllabic stems ending on an open syllable with a light
vowel" anyway?) In fact, PRODUCTIVELY, only disyllabic lexemes
containing the morphemes -_y_ and -_ly_ (when used on adjectives
but not adverbs: _friendlier_ but *_quicklier_) form synthetic
comparatives. Phonology alone certainly does not determine that
synthetic forms are allowed only if two adjectives are not
compared: My car is redder than yours
 *My car is redder than orange
 My car is more red than orange
So when comparative constructions arrive at Phonology, the deci-
sion as to which comparative is synthetic and which, analytic
has already been made and it is a syntactic and/or lexical, not
phonological, decision. The question as to what kind of features
condition this distinction, therefore, is wide open and clearly
the lexicon and syntax are involved.
 If we allow morphology to handle all affixation, the prefix
_un_- is simply added to the modest list of two affixes, -_y_ and
-_ly_ which permit _-er_ within syllabic limits. LMBM inflection
has already inserted a grammatical feature, say, [+Comparative]
into Spec\A and how that feature is used, i.e. where and with what
phonological substance is spelled in depends upon the morphology.
The decision between /mor/ in Spec position or reading Spec and
suffixing the head is the same decision involved in cliticizing
the head under Anderson's (_A-Morphous Morphology_, chapter 8)
combined principles of clitic-affix distribution. An autonomous
morpholgy can read the phonological matrix or the grammatical
representation of the lexeme, certainly its derivational history.
Since both inflectional and derivational morphology is handled by
the same component, there is no possibility that a marker of some
lexical derivation feature will be placed outside an inflectional
marker. No, I'm afraid that there are far grander differences
between morphological theories than Sproat leads us to believe
(see what Carstairs-McCarthy and Spencer, for example, think).
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Message 2: _unhappier_

Date: Tue, 2 Jun 92 13:16:04 EDT_unhappier_
From: Richard Sproat <>
Subject: _unhappier_

For those who care, please emend my nonsensical parenthetical to read:

 (Note that `very' fails for clear scalars like `all', so perhaps what
 is really tested by `very' is gradability rather than scalar-hood.
 Thanks to Gregory Ward for this and other points.)

Richard Sproat
Linguistics Research Department
AT&T Bell Laboratories			tel (908) 582-5296
600 Mountain Avenue, Room 2d-451	fax (908) 582-7308
Murray Hill, NJ 07974
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Message 3: the _unhappier_ paradox

Date: Fri, 05 Jun 92 16:40:35 ESthe _unhappier_ paradox
From: Greg Stump <>
Subject: the _unhappier_ paradox

The following is a reply to Richard Sproat's reply to my comment on his
_unhappier_ squib (LI 23 (1992), 347-352).

Responding to my question of whether the comparative form of a
scalar adjective is itself necessarily scalar, Richard says

 I guess it rather depends upon definitions here, but if
 by `scalar' one means `scalar predicate' in the sense of
 Horn (1972) or Hirschberg (1991), then surely _unhappier_
 is scalar

but offers no justification for this conclusion. I think, though, that
my original question is more subtle than this somewhat glib response
gives it credit for being. I don't have access to Hirschberg's
dissertation, but Horn's (1972) conception of scalar predicates is
intuitively this: scalar predicates are predicates that designate
contrasting points or intervals on some scale; thus, _warm_ and _hot_
are scalar predicates, because they designate contrasting intervals on a
scale of temperature. Clearly _happy_ is scalar in this sense; but
whether _happier_ is scalar in this same sense is far from clear, and it
is precisely this question that my earlier posting was intended to

The simplest examples of scalar adjectives are gradable adjectives
(i.e. those denoting properties which one may possess to a greater or
lesser degree), and it is pretty clear that _happier_ isn't gradable.
As an analogy, consider the following model:

(i) A B C

Is B any less on A's right than C is? No, because the `right of'
relation is one of direction, not of distance. (One could, of course,
say that C is FARTHER to the right of A than B is, but this is because
_far_ interjects the parameter of distance.) Thus, in the
one-dimensional model in (i), _right of_ is a non-gradable predicate; B
doesn't possess the property of being on the right of A to any lesser
degree than C does.

Now, suppose that (i) represents three points on a one-dimensional scale
of happiness (where individual A is at the point of abject sadness and
individual C at that of delirious elation). On this assumption, the
`happier' relation seems simply to be the analogue of the `right of'
relation, again pertaining to direction but not to distance: B may be
less happy than C, but it's not clear that B possesses the property of
being happier than A to any lesser degree than C does; either you're
happier than A or you're not. The assumption that _happier_ is
non-gradable correctly predicts the ungrammaticality of expressions like
*_very happier_, *_less happier_, and *_as happier as Sandy_. Note that
while sentences like _C is much happier than B_ might seem to suggest
that _happier_ is gradable, they are probably comparable to sentences
like _C is farther to the right of A than B is_; _much_, like _far_,
seems to add a gradable parameter of distance to a non-gradable
parameter of direction.

In and of itself, the conclusion that _happier_ isn't gradable doesn't
entail that it isn't scalar, since there are scalar adjectives that
aren't gradable (e.g. the adjective _universal_). There are, however,
independent criteria that can be used to test the claim that _happier_
is scalar. For instance, the semantic properties of scalar predicates
associated with the same scale cause them to exhibit an asymmetry with
respect to contexts like `_____ if not actually _____' and `not only
_____ but _____':

(ii) The sandwich was warm if not actually hot.
 *The sandwich was hot if not actually warm.
 The sandwich was not only warm but hot.
 *The sandwich was not only hot but warm.

(iii) Their performance was good if not actually excellent.
 *Their performance was excellent if not actually good.
 Their performance was not only good but excellent.
 *Their performance was not only excellent but good.

(iv) What ensued was widespread if not actually universal
 *What ensued was universal if not actually widespread
 What ensued was not only widespread but universal
 *What ensued was not only universal but widespread

Note, however, that _happy_ and _happier_ do not participate in
these asymmetries:

(v) Sandy is happier (than she was last year) if not
 actually happy.
 Sandy is happy if not actually happier (than she
 was last year).
 Sandy is not only happier (than she was last year)
 but happy.
 Sandy is not only happy but happier (than she was
 last year).

That is, with respect to these criteria, _happier_ doesn't behave as if
it were a scalar adjective associated with the same scale as _happy_.
Intuitively, this makes good sense, since unlike _happy_, _happier_
doesn't clearly designate a fixed point or interval on the scale of
happiness; if anything, it designates a direction on that scale. But if
_happier_ isn't scalar, then Richard's claim that the structure [ un [
happi er ]] is semantically workable becomes rather hard to defend.

In response to my assertion that the _unhappier_ paradox becomes
completely unparadoxical in the Paradigm Function Theory advocated in my
article in _Language_ 67 (1991: 675-725), Richard says

 The point is that, *all* analyses of bracketing paradoxes have
 presented what seemed to the authors at the time to be well-
 motivated theories wherein bracketing paradoxes ceased to be such.
 Indeed, it would be bizarre if things were otherwise, since
 presumably nobody who treats an apparently paradoxical construction
 wants to argue that the construction in question remains a paradox
 in their theory.

But the point in my earlier posting is that the _un-ADJ-er_ construction
doesn't actually cease to be paradoxical in the approach envisioned in
Richard's squib. On the approach he advocates, _unhappier_ is given a
single structural analysis (viz. [ un [ happi er ]]), valid both for
phonological and for semantic purposes; by contrast, cases like
_uneasier_ and _slaphappier_ each have to have two different structural
analyses ([ un [ easi er ]] and [ slap [ happi er ]] for phonological
purposes, but [[ un easi ] er ] and [[ slap happi ] er ] for semantic
purposes). Thus, the paradox remains, though in a somewhat disguised
form: despite the obvious parallelism between the three expressions,
_uneasier_ and _slaphappier_ have to be analyzed differently from
_unhappier_. This paradox vanishes in the Paradigm Function Theory, in
which the three expressions receive a uniform analysis at all levels.
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Message 4: Re: Query: X-bar and VP

Date: Sat, 6 Jun 1992 15:45 +080Re: Query: X-bar and VP
From: <MATTHEWSHKUCC.bitnet>
Subject: Re: Query: X-bar and VP

Concerning Rick Moreau's query, the same claim about internal arguments
being incorporated into compounds is made (in a finer form appealing to
the thematic hierarchy) in Jane Grimshaw's recent book, "Argument Structure"
which may well contain discussion of Rick's counterexamples. The solution
surely has to do with the fact that examples like "man-made hill"
contain passive participles. It is questionable whether "man" here is
an external argument of the verb "make". In one GB account of the passive
developed by Ian Roberts, the optional object of the by-phrase is an
"implicit argument". Under a lexical approach to the passive, it
would clearly not be an external argument. At any rate, the relevant
argument structure underlying "man-made hill" is that of "hill (is)
made by man" rather than that of "man makes hill."
 Osvaldo Jaeggli's paper on the Passive in Linguistic Inquiry (1986)
deals with the status of the agentive by-phrase. IT may be that the
compounding theorists would have to modify the definition of internal
argument to deal with these cases.
Stephen Matthews, University of Hong Kong
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Message 5: 3.452 Query: X-bar and VP

Date: Wed, 3 Jun 92 12:59:21 GMT3.452 Query: X-bar and VP
From: Arnold D J <>
Subject: 3.452 Query: X-bar and VP

Some (I hope) helpful remarks for Rick Moreau:

I think the reason Rick Morneau's example are not (necessarily)
counter-examples to claims about how internal and external arguments
operate in compounds is that the verbs that are the heads of the
compounds are actually passive. These are his examples:

 man-made hill
 customer-selected colors
 snake-infested swamp

In `man-made', you may seem to have a verb (make) getting its
exeternal argument (man) inside the compound (cf `men make X'), but
in fact, what you have is a passive (made), and an internal argument
(made by man). This is clearest with the last example: ?snakes infest
the swamp vs. the swamp is infested by/with snakes.

As regards the (non-) existence of VP, and coordination facts, there
has been a good deal of work in Categorial Grammar recently:
Steedman's paper in Language is a starting point ( J. Steedman,
"Dependency and coordination in the Grammar of Dutch and English,"
Language, vol. 61, pp. 523-568, 1985).

Doug Arnold,	(Janet)
Dept. of Language & Linguistics, (ean)
University of Essex, (arpa)
Wivenhoe Park, (earn)
Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK. 		...!ukc!!doug (uucp)
Tel: +44 206 872084 (direct)		Fax: +44 206 872085
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