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Academic Paper


Title: Between being wise and acting wise: A hidden conditional in some constructions with propensity adjectives
Author: David Yoshikazu Oshima
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.gsid.nagoya-u.ac.jp/oshima
Institution: Nagoya University
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Abstract: This paper develops a semantic analysis of three constructions: (i) the subject-oriented adverb construction (Wisely, John left early), (ii) the ‘Adj+to Inf’ construction (John was wise to leave early), and (iii) the ‘Adj+of NP’ construction (It was wise of John to leave early), which all involve three semantic components: (i) an individual a (John), (ii) a property P that describes a mental/behavioral propensity (wise), and (iii) another property P which typically describes an action (leave early).

I argue that the three constructions share a meaning along the lines of ‘P(a), and from this it is possible to infer that P(a)’, where P is forced to receive the transitory interpretation, but they differ as to which component they assert/presuppose. I further demonstrate that this analysis allows us to solve two well-known semantic puzzles concerning these constructions (the ‘entailment puzzle’ and the ‘embeddability puzzle’). The three constructions are highly amenable to the Construction Grammar approach, because their meaning cannot be derived from the intuitive meanings of their constituents and regular semantic rules only. I provide formal analyses of the three constructions in the framework of Sign-Based Construction Grammar (SBCG).

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 45, Issue 2.

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