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Adjective, Детальна інформація

Тема: Adjective
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Автор: Олексій
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On the other hand, among the substantivized adjectives there is a set characterized by hybrid lexico-grammatical features, as in the following examples:

The new bill concerning the wage-freeze introduced by the Labour Government cannot satisfy either the poor, or the rich (Radio Broadcast). A monster.

The word conveyed the ultimate in infamy and debasement inconceivable to one not native to the times (J. Vance). The train, indulging all his

English nostalgia for the plushy and the genteel, seemed to him a deceit

(M. Bradbury).

The mixed categorial nature of the exemplified words is evident from their incomplete presentation of the part-of speech characteristics of either nouns or adjectives. Like nouns, the words are used in the article form; like nouns, they express the category of number (in a relational way); but their article and number forms are rigid, being no subject to the regular structural change inherent in the normal expression of these categories. Moreover, being categorially unchangeable, the words convey the mixed adjectival-nounal semantics of property.

The adjectival-nounal words in question are very specific. They are distinguished by a high productivity and, like statives, are idiomatically characteristic of Modern English.

On the analogy of verbids these words might be called "adjectivids", since they are rather nounal forms of adjectives than nouns as such.

The adjectivids fall into two main grammatical subgroups, namely, the subgroup pluralia tantum {the English, the rich, the unemployed, the uninitiated, etc.), and the subgroup singularia tantum (the invisible, the abstract, the tangible, etc.). Semantically, the words of the first subgroup express sets of people (personal multitudes), while the words of the second group express abstract ideas of various types and connotations.

The category of adjectival comparison expresses the quantitative characteristic of the quality of a nounal referent, i.e. it gives a relative evaluation of the quantity of a quality. The purely relative nature of the categorial semantics of comparison is reflected in its name.

The category is constituted by the opposition of the three forms known under the heading of degrees of comparison: the basic form (positive degree), having no features of corn" parison; the comparative degree form, having the feature of restricted .superiority (which limits the comparison to two elements only); the superlative degree form, having the feature of unrestricted superiority.

It should be noted that the meaning of unrestricted superiority is in- built in the superlative degree as such, though in practice this form is used in collocations imposing certain restrictions on the effected comparison; thus, the form in question may be used to signify restricted superiority, namely, in cases where a limited number of referents are compared. Cf.: Johnny was the strongest boy in the company.

As is evident from the example, superiority restriction is shown here not by the native meaning of the superlative, but by the particular contextual construction of comparison where the physical strength of one boy is estimated in relation to that of his companions.

Some linguists approach the number of the degrees of comparison as problematic on the grounds that the basic form of the adjective does not express any comparison by itself and therefore should be excluded from the category. This exclusion would reduce the category to two members only, i.e. the comparative and superlative degrees.

However, the oppositional interpretation of grammatical categories underlying our considerations does not admit of such an exclusion; on the contrary, the non-expression of superiority by the basic form is understood in the oppositional presentation of comparison as a pre-requisite for the expression of the category as such. In this expression of the category the basic form is the unmarked member, not distinguished by any comparison suffix or comparison auxiliary, while the superiority forms (i.e. the comparative and superlative) are the marked members, distinguished by the comparison suffixes or comparison auxiliaries.

That the basic form as the positive degree of comparison does express this categorial idea, being included in one and the same calegorial series with the superiority degrees, is clearly shown by its actual uses in comparative syntactic constructions of equality, as well as comparative syntactic constructions of negated equality. Cf.: The remark was as bitter as could be. The Rockies are not so high as the Caucasus.

These constructions are directly correlative with comparative constructions of inequality built around the comparative and superlative degree forms. Cf.: That was the bitterest remark I have ever heard from the man. The Caucasus is higher than the Rockies.

Thus, both formally and semantically, the oppositional basis of the category of comparison displays a binary nature. In terms of the three degrees of comparison, on the upper level of presentation the superiority degrees as the marked member of the opposition are contrasted against the positive degree as its unmarked member. The superiority degrees, in their turn, form the opposition of the lower level of presentation, where the comparative degree features the functionally weak member, and the superlative degree, respectively, the strong member. The whole of the double oppositional unity, considered from the semantic angle, constitutes a gradual ternary opposition.

The synthetical forms of comparison in -er and -(e)st coexist with the analytical forms of comparison effected by the auxiliaries more and most.

The analytical forms of comparison perform a double function. On the one hand, they are used with the evaluative adjectives that, due to their phonemic structure (two-syllable words with the stress on the first syllable ending in other grapho-phonemic complexes than -er, -y, -le, -ow or words of more than two-syllable composition) cannot normally take the synthetical forms of comparison. In this respect, the analytical comparison forms are in categorial complementary distribution with the synthetical comparison forms. On the other hand, the analytical forms of comparison, as different from the synthetical forms, are used to express emphasis, thus complementing the synthetical forms in the sphere of this important stylistic connotation. Cf.: The audience became more and more noisy, and soon the speaker's words were drowned in the general hum of voices.

The structure of the analytical degrees of comparison is meaningfully overt; these forms are devoid of the feature of "semantic idiomatism" characteristic of some other categorial analytical forms, such as, for instance, the forms of the verbal perfect. For this reason the analytical degrees of comparison invite some linguists to call in question their claim to a categorial status in English grammar.

In particular, scholars point out the following two factors in support of the view that the combinations of more/most with the basic form of the adjective are not the analytical expressions of the morphological category of comparison, but free syntactic constructions: first, the more/most- combinations are semantically analogous to combinations of less/least with the adjective which, in the general opinion, are syntactic combinations of notional words; second, the most-combination, unlike the synthetic superlative, can take the indefinite article, expressing not the superlative, but the elative meaning (i.e. a high, not the highest degree of the respective quality).

The reasons advanced, though claiming to be based on an analysis of actual lingual data, can hardly be called convincing as regards their immediate negative purpose.

Let us first consider the use of the most-combillation with the indefinite article.

This combination is a common means of expressing elative evaluations of substance properties. The function of the elative most-construction in distinction to the function of the superlative most-'construction will be seen from the following examples:

The speaker launched a most significant personal attack on the Prime

Minister. The most significant of the arguments in a dispute is not necessarily the most spectacular one.

While the phrase "a most significant (personal) attack" in the first of the two examples gives the idea of rather a high degree of the quality expressed irrespective of any directly introduced or implied comparison with other attacks on the Prime Minister, the phrase "the most significant of the arguments" expresses exactly the superlative degree of the quality in relation to the immediately introduced comparison with all the rest of the arguments in a dispute; the same holds true of the phrase "the most spectacular one". It is this exclusion of the outwardly superlative adjective from a comparison that makes it into a simple elative, with its most-constituent turned from the superlative auxiliary into a kind of a lexical intensifier.

The definite article with the elative most-construction is also possible, if leaving the elative function less distinctly recognizable (in oral speech the elative most is commonly left unstressed, the absence of stress serving as a negative mark of the elative). Cf.: I found myself in the most awkward situation, for I couldn't give a satisfactory answer to any question asked by the visitors.

Now, the synthetical superlative degree, as is known, can be used in the elative function as well, the distinguishing feature of the latter being its exclusion from a comparison.

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