Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Query Details

Query Subject:   Qs: A question from ASK-A-LINGUIST
Author:   Theriault Alain
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Lexicography

Query:   Colleagues:

Do terms already exist for a distinction that I want to label
''pertinative'' vs. ''predicative''? (Read on.)

The WordNet folks have invented the useful notion ''pertainym'' which
names the relationship an adjective can have with a specific noun for
which the adjective is defined as ''of or pertaining to ...''. Thus,
''mental'' is a pertainym of ''mind''.

The terms I need will distinguish adjectives, or uses of adjectives,
that do or do not function as pertainyms, but the contrast I want is
between adjectives that can be used pertinatively as opposed to being
used predicatively/intersectively/attributively.

Lots of adjectives have only the predicative use. Maybe this is true
of most of the adjectives you'd think of if you just sat back to think
up a bunch of adjectives. old, young, green, red, big, little,
hungry, complex, etc.

Lots of adjectives seem to have only pertinative use. mental (mental
disease), intestinal (intestinal problems), etc.

Sometimes two different adjectives are derived from the same base, one
used pertinatively, one predicatively: economic (policy), economical
(head of household).

And very often the same adjective can be used in both functions.
Compare educational experience with educational institution; muscular
athlete with muscular aches and pains.

(Of course there are uses of adjectives that don't fit either of

At first it seemed to me that pertinative uses are limited to
pre-nominal function, but that's not quite true. ''These problems are
economic in nature'' & ''the institutions we support are educational in
character'' etc.

I worry about using ''predicative'' because in some traditions that's a
positional notion; but the adjectives I want to call pertinative can
occur ''in predicative position''. Etc.

Anyway, I want to write up some instructions on carrying out certain
kinds of lexicographic research, and I want these instructions to
differ according to whether we're looking at ''pertinative'' or
''predicative'' adjectives. Maybe semanticists, grammarians, or
lexicographers already have a terminological tradition for just this.
If so, please let me know! One problem has to do with the word
''pertinative'' itself; the other problem concerns the other member of
the contrast set.


Chuck Fillmore

(FrameNet: http://www.icsi.berkeley.edu/~framenet)

For certain lexicographic research purposes I want to define different
instructions for the treatment of pertinative and predicative (uses
of) adjectives, and before I write this up I've just been wondering if
there are some established terms, in grammar, semantics, or
lexicography, for labeling this distinction. Help!
LL Issue: 8.1132
Date posted: 03-Aug-1997


Sums main page