A typology of multidimensional adjectives

Galit W. Sassoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article presents corpus-based evidence for a typology of multidimensional adjectives, such as healthy and sick. The interpretation of these adjectives is sensitive to multiple dimensions, such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood-sugar level. The study investigated the frequency of exception phrases that appear to operate on an implicit universal quantifier over adjectival dimensions, as in healthy, except for a slight cold, and not sick, except for high cholesterol. On the emerging typology, adjectives classify by the way their dimensions are glued together to create a single, uniform interpretation. As a default, the dimensions of adjectives such as healthy are bound through implicit universal quantification, while those of adjectives such as sick are bound through existential quantification. In adjectives like intelligent the force of quantification over dimensions is context relative. Moreover, the article presents support for the hypotheses that antonym polarity and modifier distribution guide our choice of quantifiers over dimensions in different adjectives. Thus, this research sheds new light on the nature of negative antonymy in multidimensional adjectives, and the distribution of degree modifiers amongst them. Finally, it raises new questions about multidimensional comparisons, and about the adjective-noun distinction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-380
Number of pages46
JournalJournal of Semantics
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research for this paper was made possible thanks to the Pratt scholarship, Ben Gurion University, and funding of the project ‘On vagueness—and how to be precise enough’ by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO 360-20-201). The paper profited from invaluable advice by the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Journal of semantics. I warmly thank Nirit Kadmon, Fred Landman, Frank Veltman, Robert van Rooij, Dorit Ben Shalom, Edit Doron, Danny Fox, Micha Breakstone, Louise McNally, Bart Geurts, Yael Greenberg, Jessica Olsen, and Adar Weidman, for insightful comments. Any mistakes are solely mine.

Funding

The research for this paper was made possible thanks to the Pratt scholarship, Ben Gurion University, and funding of the project ‘On vagueness—and how to be precise enough’ by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO 360-20-201). The paper profited from invaluable advice by the editors and anonymous reviewers of the Journal of semantics. I warmly thank Nirit Kadmon, Fred Landman, Frank Veltman, Robert van Rooij, Dorit Ben Shalom, Edit Doron, Danny Fox, Micha Breakstone, Louise McNally, Bart Geurts, Yael Greenberg, Jessica Olsen, and Adar Weidman, for insightful comments. Any mistakes are solely mine.

FundersFunder number
Ben Gurion University
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek360-20-201

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