Qs: A question from ASK-A-LINGUIST
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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
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
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.
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!
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