Adjective, Детальна інформація
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(decorative), -ic (basic); un- (unprecedented), in- (inaccurate), pre-
Among the adjectival affixes should also be named the prefix a-, constitutive for the stative sub-class which is to be discussed below.
As for the variable (demutative) morphological features, the English adjective, having lost in the course of the history of English all its forms of grammatical agreement with the noun, is distinguished only by the hybrid category of comparison.
All the adjectives are traditionally divided into two large subclasses: qualitative and relative.
Relative adjectives express such properties of a substance as are determined by the direct relation of the substance to some other substance.
E.g.: wood — a wooden hut; mathematics — mathematical precision; history — a historical event; table — tabular presentation; colour — coloured postcards; surgery — surgical treatment; the Middle Ages — mediaeval rites.
The nature of this "relationship" in adjectives is best revealed by definitional correlations. Cf.: a wooden hut — a hut made of wood; a historical event — an event referring to a certain period of history; surgical treatment — treatment consisting in the implementation of surgery; etc.
Qualitative adjectives, as different from relative ones, denote various qualities of substances which admit of a quantitative estimation, i.e. of establishing their correlative quantitative measure. The measure of a quality can be estimated as high or low, adequate or inadequate, sufficient or insufficient, optimal or excessive. Cf.: an awkward situation
— a very awkward situation; a difficult task — too difficult a task; an enthusiastic reception — rather an enthusiastic reception; a hearty welcome
— not a very hearty welcome; etc.
In this connection, the ability of an adjective to form degrees of comparison is usually taken as a formal sign of its qualitative character, in opposition to a relative adjective which is understood as incapable of forming degrees of comparison by definition. Cf.: a pretty girl --a prettier girl; a quick look — a quicker look; a hearty welcome — the heartiest of welcomes; a bombastic speech — the most bombastic speech.
However, in actual speech the described principle of distinction is not at all strictly observed, which is noted in the very grammar treatises putting it forward. Two typical cases of contradiction should be pointed out here.
In the first place, substances can possess such qualities as are incompatible with the idea of degrees of comparison. Accordingly, adjectives denoting these qualities, while belonging to the qualitative subclass, are in the ordinary use incapable of forming degrees of comparison. Here refer adjectives like extinct, immobile, deaf, final, fixed, etc.
In the second place, many adjectives considered under the heading of relative still can form degrees of comparison, thereby, as it were, transforming the denoted relative property of a substance into such as can be graded quantitatively. Cf.: a mediaeval approach—rather a mediaeval approach — a far more mediaeval approach; of a military design — of a less military design — of a more military design; a grammatical topic ~ a purely grammatical topic — the most grammatical of the suggested topics.
In order to overcome the demonstrated lack of rigour in the definitions in question, we may introduce an additional linguistic distinction which is more adaptable to the chances of usage. The suggested distinction is based on the evaluative function of adjectives. According as they actually give some qualitative evaluation to the substance referent or only point out its corresponding native property, all the adjective functions may be grammatically divided into "evaluative" and
"specificative". In particular, one and the same adjective, irrespective of its being basically (i.e. in the sense of the fundamental semantic property of its root constituent) "relative" or "qualitative", can be used either in the evaluative function or in the specificative function.
For instance, the adjective good is basically qualitative. On the other hand, when employed as a grading term in teaching, i.e. a term forming part of the marking scale together with the grading terms bad, satisfactory, excellent, it acquires the said specificative value; in other words, it becomes a specificative, not an evaluative unit in the grammatical sense
(though, dialectically, it does signify in this case a lexical evaluation of the pupil's progress). Conversely, the adjective wooden is basically relative, but when used in the broader meaning "expressionless" or
"awkward" it acquires an evaluative force and, consequently, can presuppose a greater or lesser degree ("amount") of the denoted properly in the corresponding referent. E.g.:
Bundle found herself looking into the expressionless, wooden face of
Superintendent Battle (A. Christie). The superintendent was sitting behind a table and looking more wooden than ever.
The degrees of comparison are essentially evaluative formulas, therefore any adjective used in a higher comparison degree (comparative, superlative) is thereby made into an evaluative adjective, if only for the nonce (see the examples above).
Thus, the introduced distinction between the evaluative and specificative uses of adjectives, in the long run, emphasizes the fact that the morphological category of comparison (comparison degrees) is potentially represented in the whole class of adjectives and is constitutive for it.
Among the words signifying properties of a nounal referent there is a lexemic set which claims to be recognized as a separate part of speech, i.e. as a class of words different from the adjectives in its class-forming features. These are words built up by the prefix a- and denoting different states, mostly of temporary duration. Here belong lexemes like afraid, agog, adrift, ablaze. In traditional grammar these words were generally considered under the heading of "predicative adjectives" (some of them also under the heading of adverbs), since their most typical position in the sentence is that of a predicative and they are but occasionally used as pre- positional attributes to nouns.
Notional words signifying states and specifically used as predicatives were first identified as a separate part of speech in the Russian language by L. V. Shcherba and V. V. Vinogradov. The two scholars called the newly identified part of speech the "category of state" (and, correspondingly, separate words making up this category, "words of the category of state").
Here belong the Russian words mostly ending in -o, but also having other suffixes: тепло, зябко, одиноко, радостно, жаль, лень, etc. Traditionally the Russian words of the category of state were considered as constituents of (he class of adverbs, and they are still considered as such by many
On the analogy of the Russian "category of state", the English qualifying a-words of the corresponding meanings were subjected to a lexico- grammatical analysis and given the part-of-speech heading "category of slate". This analysis was first conducted by B. A. llyish and later continued by other linguists. The term "words of the category of state", being rather cumbersome from the technical point of view, was later changed into "stative words", or "statives".
The part-of-speech interpretation of the statives is not shared by all linguists working in the domain of English, and has found both its proponents and opponents.
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