Probably the most consistent and explicit exposition of the part-of-speech interpretation of statives has been given by B. S. Khaimovich and B. I.
Rogovskaya. Their theses supporting the view in question can be summarized as follows.
First, the statives, called by the quoted authors "adlinks" (by virtue of their connection with link-verbs and on the analogy of the term
"adverbs"), are allegedly opposed to adjectives on a purely semantic basis, since adjectives denote "qualities", and statives-adlinks denote "states".
Second, as different from adjectives, statives-adlinks are characterized by the specific prefix a-. Third, they allegedly do not possess the category of the degrees of comparison. Fourth, the combinability of statives-adlinks is different from that of adjectives in so far as they are not used in the pre-positional attributive function, i.e. are characterized by the absence of the right-hand combinability with nouns.
The advanced reasons, presupposing many-sided categorial estimation of statives, are undoubtedly serious and worthy of note. Still, a closer consideration of the properties of the analysed lexemic set cannot but show that, on the whole, the said reasons are hardly instrumental in proving the main idea, i.e. in establishing the English stative as a separate part of speech. The re-consideration of the stative on the basis of comparison with the classical adjective inevitably discloses (lie fundamental relationship between the two, — such relationship as should be interpreted in no other terms than identity on the part-of-speech level, though, naturally, providing for their distinct differentiation on the subclass level.
The first scholar who undertook this kind of re-consideration of the lexemic status of English statives was L. S. Barkhudarov, and in our estimation of them we essentially follow his principles, pointing out some additional criteria of argument.
First, considering the basic meaning expressed by the stative, we formulate it as "stative property", i.e. a kind of property of a nounal referent. As we already know, the adjective as a whole signifies not
"quality" in the narrow sense, but "property", which is categorially divided into "substantive quality as such" and "substantive relation". In this respect, statives do not fundamentally differ from classical adjectives. Moreover, common adjectives and participles in adjective-type functions can express the same, or, more specifically, typologically the same properties (or "qualities" in a broader sense) as are expressed by statives.
Indeed, the main meaning types conveyed by statives are: the psychic state of a person (afraid, ashamed, aware); the physical state of a person (astir, afoot); the physical state of an object (afire, ablaze, aglow); the state of an object in space (askew, awry, aslant). Meanings of the same order are rendered by pre-positional adjectives. Cf.:
the living predecessor — the predecessor alive; eager curiosity — curiosity agog; the burning house — the house afire; a floating raft — a raft afloat; a half-open door — a door adjar; slanting ropes — ropes aslant; a vigilant man — a man awake; similar cases — cases alike; an excited crowd — a crowd astir.
It goes without saying that many other adjectives and participles convey the meanings of various states irrespective of their analogy with statives.
Cf. such words of the order of psychic state as despondent, curious, happy, joyful; such words of the order of human physical state as sound, refreshed, healthy, hungry; such words of the order of activity state as busy, functioning, active, employed, etc.
Second, turning to the combinability characteristics of statives, we see that, though differing from those of the common adjectives in one point negatively, they basically coincide with them in the other points. As a matter of fact, statives are not used in attributive pre-position. but, like adjectives, they are distinguished by the left-hand categorial combinability both with nouns and link-verbs. Cf.:
The household was nil astir.——The household was all excited — It was strange to see (the household active at this hour of the day.— It was strange to see the household active at this hour of the day.
Third, analysing the functions of the stative corresponding to its combinability patterns, we see that essentially they do not differ from the functions of the common adjective. Namely, the two basic functions of the stative are the predicative and the attribute. The similarity of functions leads to the possibility of the use of a stative and a common adjective in a homogeneous group. E.g.: Launches and barges moored to the dock were ablaze and loud with wild sound.
True, the predominant function of the stative, as different from the common adjective, is that of the predicative. But then, the important structural and functional peculiarities of statives uniting them in a distinctly separate set of lexemes cannot be disputed. What is disputed is the status of this set in relation to the notional parts of speech, not its existence or identification as such.
Fourth, from our point of view, it would not be quite consistent with the actual lingual data to place the stative strictly out of the category of comparison. As we have shown above, the category of comparison is connected with the functional division of adjectives into evaluative and specificative, Like common adjectives, statives are subject to this flexible division, and so in principle they are included into the expression of the quantitative estimation of the corresponding properties conveyed by them. True, statives do not take the synthetical forms of the degrees of comparison, but they are capable of expressing comparison analytically, in cases where it is to be expressed.
Cf.: Of us all, Jack was the one most aware of the delicate situation in which we found ourselves. I saw that the adjusting lever stood far more askew than was allowed by the directions.
Fifth, quantitative considerations, though being a subsidiary factor of reasoning, tend to support the conjoint part-of-speech interpretation of statives and common adjectives. Indeed, the total number of statives does not exceed several dozen (a couple of dozen basic, "stable" units and, probably, thrice as many "unstable" words of the nature of coinages for the nonce). This number is negligible in comparison with the number of words of the otherwise identified notional parts of speech, each of them counting thousands of units. Why, then, an honour of the part-of-speech status to be granted to a small group of words not differing in their fundamental lexico- grammatical features from one of the established large word-classes?
As for the set-forming prefix a-, it hardly deserves a serious consideration as a formal basis of the part-of-speech identification of statives simply because formal features cannot be taken in isolation from functional features. Moreover, as is known, there are words of property not distinguished by this prefix, which display essential functional characteristics inherent in the stative set. In particular, here belong such adjectives as ill, well, glad, sorry, worth (while), subject (to), due
(to), underway, and some others. On the other hand, among the basic statives we find such as can hardly be analysed into a genuine combination of the type "prefix + root", because their morphemic parts have become fused into one indivisible unit in the course of language history, e.g. aware, afraid, aloof.
Thus, the undertaken semantic and functional analysis shows that statives, though forming a unified set of words, do not constitute a separate lexemic class existing in language on exactly the same footing as the noun, the verb, the adjective, the adverb; rather it should be looked upon as a subclass within the general class of adjectives. It is essentially an adjectival subclass, because, due to their peculiar features, statives are not directly opposed to the notional parts of speech taken together, but are quite particularly opposed to the rest of adjectives. It means that the general subcategorization of the class of adjectives should be effected on the two levels: on the upper level the class will be divided into the subclass of stative adjectives and common adjectives; on the lower level the common adjectives fall into qualitative and relative, which division has been discussed in the foregoing paragraph.
As we see, our final conclusion about the lexico-grammatical nature of statives appears to have returned them into the lexemic domain in which they were placed by traditional grammar and from which they were alienated in the course of subsequent linguistic investigations. A question then arises, whether these investigations, as well as the discussions accompanying them, have served any rational purpose at all.
The answer to this question, though, can only be given in the energetic affirmative. Indeed, all the detailed studies of statives undertaken by quite a few scholars, all the discussions concerning their systemic location and other related matters have produced very useful results, both theoretical and practical.
The traditional view of the stative was not supported by any special analysis, it was formed on the grounds of mere surface analogies and outer correlations. The later study of statives resulted in the exposition of their inner properties, in the discovery of their historical productivity as a subclass, in their systemic description on the lines of competent inter-class and inter-level comparisons. And it is due to the undertaken investigations (which certainly will be continued) that we are now in a position, though having rejected the fundamental separation of the stative from the adjective, to name the subclass of statives as one of the peculiar, idiomatic lexemic features of Modern English.
As is widely known, adjectives display the ability to be easily substantivized by conversion, i.e. by zero-derivation. Among the noun- converted adjectives we find both old units, well-established in the system of lexicon, and also new ones, whose adjectival etymology conveys to the lexeme the vivid colouring of a new coinage.
For instance, the words a relative or a white or a dear bear an unquestionable mark of established tradition, while such a noun as a sensitive used in the following sentence features a distinct flavour of purposeful conversion: He was a regional man, a man who wrote about sensitives who live away from the places where things happen.
Compare this with the noun a high in the following example: The weather report promises a new high in heat and humidity.
From the purely categorial point of view, however, there is no difference between the adjectives cited in the examples and the ones given in the foregoing enumeration, since both groups equally express constitutive categories of the noun, i.e. the number, the case, the gender, the article determination, and they likewise equally perform normal nounal functions.