LINGUIST List 9.1670

Tue Nov 24 1998

Books: Syntax/Semantics

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  1. Damon Zucca, Syntax/Semantics of gradable adjectives

Message 1: Syntax/Semantics of gradable adjectives

Date: 23 Nov 98 16:20:51 -0500
From: Damon Zucca <>
Subject: Syntax/Semantics of gradable adjectives

Kennedy, Christopher; Projecting the Adjective: The Syntax and
Semantics of Gradability and Comparison; 0-8153-3349-8, cloth; page
262, $61; Garland Publishing; Outstanding Dissertations in

This book investigates the core meaning and syntactic distribution
of gradable adjectives: adjectives such as long, short, bright and
dim, with respect to which objects can be ordered and compared. The
central thesis is that gradable adjectives should be semantically
characterized as measure functions: expressions that map objects onto
abstract representations of measurement, or degrees. A second major
claim is that degrees should be formalized as intervals on a scale,
rather than discrete points, as standardly assumed. These proposals
are supported by a number of empirical arguments involving the
interpretation of comparative constructions in English, including
scope phenomena, incommensurability, and the semantic behavior of
antonymous adjectives. In addition, the semantic analysis is shown to
support a straight forward compositional interpretation of syntactic
representations in which adjectives project extended functional
structure headed by degree morphology, thus bringing the analysis of
the adjectival projection in line with current theoretical assumptions
about the phrase structure and interpretation of the nominal and
verbal projections. The proposals are formalized in terms of
model-theoretic semantics and the Principles and Parameters syntactic
framework. The text includes a comprehensive overview of previous
approaches to the semantic analysis of gradable adjectives, as well as
an introduction to some of the fundamental questions and puzzles
involving the syntax and semantics of comparatives, and it presents
new data which provide insight into the relation between comparatives
and ellipsis. This book will be of interest to scholars in the areas
of natural language semantics and the syntax-semantics interface,
adjectives, comparative constructions, vagueness, antonymy, and
English grammar in general.

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1998 Contributors

  • Addison Wesley Longman
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Cambridge University Press
  • CSLI Publications
  • Edinburgh University Press
  • Garland Publishing
  • Holland Academic Graphics (HAG)
  • John Benjamins Publishing Company
  • Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.
  • MIT Press--Books Division
  • MIT Working Papers in Linguistics
  • Mouton de Gruyter
  • Oxford University Press
  • Francais Pratique
  • Hermes
  • Pacific Linguistics
  • Routledge
  • Summer Institute of Linguistics