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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 9:36 pm 
Lebom
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In English, the normal syntactic pattern is for adjectives to come before the noun they modify: "green dog", "loud motorcycle", etc. occasionally English *does* allow noun-adjective word order, but it is very marked, and mostly restricted to poetic or legal usage: "punishment divine", "the light fantastic", "time immemorial", etc. I learned that an attorney general was a type of attorney and not a type of general after I graduated high school and I am a native English speaker, and I would pluralize it as "attorney generals" not "attorneys general" without specific education otherwise.

The source of many of these constructions seems to be from other European languages that do have regular noun-adjective word order. specifically, English gets a lot of legal vocabulary from old French, which is where "attorney general" comes from, as well as other constructions like "court martial" (although, again, I want to analyze that as a single compound noun, pluralize it as "courtmartials", etc.). nonetheless, clearly noun-adjective word order is a syntactic phenomenon that occurs in English, albeit a marked one.

I'm specifically curious about other languages, and what kinds of variation in noun-adjective order they have. I know that in spanish there are cases when an adjective comes before its noun even though the unmarked order is the opposite: El Gran Silencio, etc. In Latin both types of adjective order were acceptable, and Latin poetry did all kinds of things with word order for the sake of meter. So at least some languages are like English in having one unmarked order and one marked one. On the other hand, I don't think Japanese allows an inverted noun-adjective order at all, something like *hana akai would be illegitimate even poetically as far as I am aware.

So mostly I'm curious about what sorts of cross-linguistic variation people are aware of with regard to allowing or disallowing marked noun-adjective word order.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 10:49 pm 
Sanno
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con quesa wrote:
On the other hand, I don't think Japanese allows an inverted noun-adjective order at all, something like *hana akai would be illegitimate even poetically as far as I am aware.

Japanese doesn't allow adjectives, as far as I'm aware. (Akai is a descriptive verb; English doesn't allow inversion of relative phrases either, although it does arguably have "pre-noun inserts" like German.)

Korean has a handful of true adjectives and they always proceed their heads. Most attributive modifiers, however, are relative clauses or nouns in the genitive.


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 2:57 am 
Avisaru
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I know that Welsh almost always has noun-adjective order, but there are some adjectives which come first:

Hen old; ambell occasional; pob every; gau closed; cryn considerable. There are others too. There's also "unig" which has different meanings depending on which side of the noun it appears on: unig plentyn an only child; plentyn unig a lonely child. (I think I got that right).

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 3:55 am 
Lebom
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linguoboy wrote:
con quesa wrote:
On the other hand, I don't think Japanese allows an inverted noun-adjective order at all, something like *hana akai would be illegitimate even poetically as far as I am aware.

Japanese doesn't allow adjectives, as far as I'm aware. (Akai is a descriptive verb; English doesn't allow inversion of relative phrases either, although it does arguably have "pre-noun inserts" like German.)

Japanese has i-adjectives which are basically verbs, and na-adjectives which are basically nouns. You add -na after nouny adjectives to use them attributively, or use them directly with a copula. Japanese is a very regular head-final language, so the order is always adjective-noun.


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 5:47 am 
Avisaru
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Look at WALS

I especially like the last one: "Only internally-headed relative clauses". Very much North-America.

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 8:17 am 
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In Malayalam, adjectives (and, as in Japanese, complementizer phrases) generally go before the noun, but something different often happens with names of dishes or food preparations. For example, the most common fish dish traditionally eaten in Kerala is called [miːn ˈʋeːʋit͡ʃəd̪ɯ]. [miːn] means 'fish', and [ˈʋeːʋit͡ʃəd̪ɯ] literally means something like 'what [unspecified subject] cooked'. If I replaced [miːn] with e.g. [ɲaːn] 'I', though, that would mean 'what I cooked'. This pattern has even been extended into local Anglicized names of such dishes, e.g. fried (usually stir-fried, I think) chicken is called "chicken fry," not fried chicken, and similarly "beef fry" and "mutton fry" for fried beef and fried goat meat, respectively.


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2016 5:39 pm 
Avisaru
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Frislander wrote:
Look at WALS

I especially like the last one: "Only internally-headed relative clauses". Very much North-America.

That's interesting. I remember reading a claim somewhere that all languages seem to have at least one grammatical sub-class that is typically used for adjectival functions (even if it might be analyzable as part of a larger category of "verbs" or "nouns"). (After some Google search, this claim seems to be described, although not endorsed, by Simeon Floyd in "Re-discovering the Quechua adjective"; he cites R.M.W. Dixon as a proponent of the universality of adjectives). I wonder if the referenced languages with "only internally-headed relative clauses" show some differences in certain contexts between "adjective-y" verbs and "non-adjective-y" verbs.

It makes sense to try to avoid imposing supposedly "universal" categories on languages, but on the other hand narrower categories give more information on the behavior of different words.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 1:09 am 
Lebom
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Sumelic wrote:
Frislander wrote:
Look at WALS

I especially like the last one: "Only internally-headed relative clauses". Very much North-America.

That's interesting. I remember reading a claim somewhere that all languages seem to have at least one grammatical sub-class that is typically used for adjectival functions (even if it might be analyzable as part of a larger category of "verbs" or "nouns"). (After some Google search, this claim seems to be described, although not endorsed, by Simeon Floyd in "Re-discovering the Quechua adjective"; he cites R.M.W. Dixon as a proponent of the universality of adjectives). I wonder if the referenced languages with "only internally-headed relative clauses" show some differences in certain contexts between "adjective-y" verbs and "non-adjective-y" verbs.

It makes sense to try to avoid imposing supposedly "universal" categories on languages, but on the other hand narrower categories give more information on the behavior of different words.


many, many languages primarily express nominal modification either through stative verbs or a possessive/locative verb+abstract property noun. so "the ball is big" would be "the ball biggens" or "the ball has bigness", and "the big ball" would be "the biggening ball" or "the having-bigness ball". right now i'm doing some work on creek, a north american language that usually uses participial forms of stative verbs to modify nouns. i have a colleague who wrote her dissertation on expressing descriptive property concepts without any syntactic class of adjectives.

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Ah, so now I know where Towcester pastries originated! Cheers.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 6:11 am 
Sumerul
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linguoboy wrote:
con quesa wrote:
On the other hand, I don't think Japanese allows an inverted noun-adjective order at all, something like *hana akai would be illegitimate even poetically as far as I am aware.

Japanese doesn't allow adjectives, as far as I'm aware. (Akai is a descriptive verb; English doesn't allow inversion of relative phrases either, although it does arguably have "pre-noun inserts" like German.)

why call it a "verb" when it has a different pattern from actual verbs? is it just because it can be marked for tense?

anyway, hana akai means "the flower is red" rather than "the red flower" - it's not attributive but predicative if you wanna use fancy terms.


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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2016 7:12 am 
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As Sumelic mentioned above, R.M.W. Dixon does indeed make the claim that all languages have at least one class of adjectives. The class or classes may be very small and closed, or large and open. The "core semantic types" associated with adjectives, according to Dixon, are: dimension, age, value and colour. In a very small adjective class, adjectives may be limited to some of these semantic types. The behaviour of adjectives may vary a lot between languages, though. In some languages, they may be very "verb-like" or very "noun-like". The verb-like adjectives are often referred to by other names in grammars, such as "stative verbs" or "descriptive verbs". However, Dixon claims that there is always at least one adjective class that is distinct from regular nouns and verbs in some way, even if the difference is very subtle. See "Adjective Classes: A Cross-linguistic Typology", especially p. 9 ff.

Dixon gives some criteria for distinguishing "verb-like" adjectives and verbs (p. 15):

"Where both adjectives and verbs can fill the intransitive predicate slot, criteria for distinguishing the two word classes include: (1) different possibilities within the predicate slot; (2) different transitivity possibilities; (3) different possibilities as modifiers within an NP; (4) different possibilities in comparative constructions; (5) different possibilities for forming adverbs (that is, modifiers to verbs)."

And for "noun-like" adjectives and nouns (p. 22):

"There are a number of kinds of criteria for distinguishing adjectives from nouns, where these share grammatical properties: (i) the internal syntax of NPs; (2) morphological possibilities; (3) the comparative construction; and (4) adverbal use."

Of course, you could still categorize adjectives as a subclass of verbs (and call them "descriptive verbs"), or a subclass of nouns, although Dixon seems reluctant to do so (p. 42 ff). Whether adjectives are a major word class or merely a subclass seems like a very theoretical question (or even just a terminological one), and it may not be that important.

The claim that all languages have a distinct adjective class is perhaps a little bold, it seems like there should be some exception. On the other hand, I think someone describing a language should try to look for subtle differences between adjectives and other word classes. Many authors are probably too quick to conclude that adjectives cannot be distinguished from nouns or verbs.


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 3:06 am 
Lebom
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well, the grammar of Creek i'm reading appears to offer a counterexample to dixon's claim. there is no class of adjectives, not even a small closed class. typical adjectival functions or characteristics, like nominal modification or dixon's core property concepts, are either expressed by durative verbs or compounding nouns. there's no sense in which either type is syntactically distinct from verbs or nouns. i suppose there might be some "very subtle" difference between these verbs and nouns and non-modifying verbs and nouns, but in my mind this is venturing into unfalsifiability.

i guess the bigger question is how useful the idea of adjective as a universal syntactic category is (as distinct from a semantic category of modification or property-concepts). for many languages it's very useful to distinguish adjectives as a class from nouns and verbs. even languages like mandarin, in which "true" adjectives are a small, closed class, it does seem useful to talk about "adjectives." for languages like creek, though, distinguishing descriptive verbs from other verbs as a class of "adjectives" seems much more confusing than just calling them a sub-class of verb. any special syntactic properties such verbs have are probably due to things like real-world knowledge or pragmatic usage or semantic compatibility, not some essential syntactic difference. but maybe i'm biased by working in a theory where there are no lexical nouns, verbs or adjectives at all...

(in creek, numerals and some quantifiers that are typically a closed lexical class in other languages are pretty transparently verbal. verbs can do a lot of different things in creek, and a lot of things that other languages wouldn't consider particularly verby are expressed by verbs)

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GrinningManiac wrote:
Local pronunciation - /ˈtoʊ.stə/

Ah, so now I know where Towcester pastries originated! Cheers.


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 11:27 am 
Smeric
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con quesa wrote:
In English, the normal syntactic pattern is for adjectives to come before the noun they modify: "green dog", "loud motorcycle", etc. occasionally English *does* allow noun-adjective word order, but it is very marked, and mostly restricted to poetic or legal usage: "punishment divine", "the light fantastic", "time immemorial", etc. I learned that an attorney general was a type of attorney and not a type of general after I graduated high school and I am a native English speaker, and I would pluralize it as "attorney generals" not "attorneys general" without specific education otherwise.

The source of many of these constructions seems to be from other European languages that do have regular noun-adjective word order. specifically, English gets a lot of legal vocabulary from old French, which is where "attorney general" comes from, as well as other constructions like "court martial" (although, again, I want to analyze that as a single compound noun, pluralize it as "courtmartials", etc.). nonetheless, clearly noun-adjective word order is a syntactic phenomenon that occurs in English, albeit a marked one.

In English, the unmarked order for adjectives, when the adjective is modified by something starting with a preposition, is actually after nouns: a warrior worthy of his attention, a woman pleasant to talk to, a book easy to read.
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I'm specifically curious about other languages, and what kinds of variation in noun-adjective order they have. I know that in spanish there are cases when an adjective comes before its noun even though the unmarked order is the opposite: El Gran Silencio, etc.

The common quantifier "adjectives" (EDIT: actually, probably determiners) like demasiado 'too many' or mucho 'many' always go before the noun, but there's also adjectives that change in meaning depending on whether they go before or after the noun (like gran 'great' vs. grande 'big'). Also, an adjective in Spanish can always go before a noun, but it just sounds poetic in most cases.

(In some grammars of Spanish you may find the comment that adjectives considered pleonastic go before a noun too, e.g. la dulce miel 'the honey sweet' (honey is obviously sweet). To me that's just a poetic literary device, and it's dulce that falls under the adjectives-that-when-they're-before-nouns-imply-it's-poetry group. My quibble with such grammars is that they give examples like la dulce miel without mentioning their poetic connotation. Saying la miel dulce isn't ungrammatical either, but it implies that there are kinds of honey that aren't sweet...)

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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 3:09 pm 
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Serafín wrote:
In English, the unmarked order for adjectives, when the adjective is modified by something starting with a preposition, is actually after nouns: a warrior worthy of his attention, a woman pleasant to talk to, a book easy to read.


That's certainly a grammatical construction, but I wouldn't call it unmarked. It sounds bookish. I think you'd normally make it a relative clause: "I want to meet a woman who's pleasant to talk to." "This isn't a book that's easy to read." In the last example, "easy-to-read" is lexicalized.)


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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 4:31 pm 
Avisaru
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kodé wrote:
(in creek, numerals and some quantifiers that are typically a closed lexical class in other languages are pretty transparently verbal. verbs can do a lot of different things in creek, and a lot of things that other languages wouldn't consider particularly verby are expressed by verbs)


That sounds interesting. Do you have examples of verbs expressing numerals?

Serafín wrote:
Saying la dulce miel isn't ungrammatical either, but it implies that there are kinds of honey that aren't sweet...


I've heard that about Spanish adjectives, but I thought it was the other way around - e.g. dulce miel means that the honey is sweet because all honey is sweet, whereas miel dulce means "the sweet honey, rather than the non-sweet honey". Or at least, that was what I got from a source not aimed at linguists years ago.

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PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 7:37 pm 
Avisaru
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zompist wrote:
Serafín wrote:
In English, the unmarked order for adjectives, when the adjective is modified by something starting with a preposition, is actually after nouns: a warrior worthy of his attention, a woman pleasant to talk to, a book easy to read.


That's certainly a grammatical construction, but I wouldn't call it unmarked. It sounds bookish. I think you'd normally make it a relative clause: "I want to meet a woman who's pleasant to talk to." "This isn't a book that's easy to read." In the last example, "easy-to-read" is lexicalized.)


And because 'easy to read" is a lexicalized unit, "a book easy to read" looks ungrammatical to me - I'd rather say "an easy to read book".

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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 1:32 am 
Sumerul
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faiuwle wrote:
kodé wrote:
(in creek, numerals and some quantifiers that are typically a closed lexical class in other languages are pretty transparently verbal. verbs can do a lot of different things in creek, and a lot of things that other languages wouldn't consider particularly verby are expressed by verbs)


That sounds interesting. Do you have examples of verbs expressing numerals?

Serafín wrote:
Saying la dulce miel isn't ungrammatical either, but it implies that there are kinds of honey that aren't sweet...


I've heard that about Spanish adjectives, but I thought it was the other way around - e.g. dulce miel means that the honey is sweet because all honey is sweet, whereas miel dulce means "the sweet honey, rather than the non-sweet honey". Or at least, that was what I got from a source not aimed at linguists years ago.

I got the impression he made a typo


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 1:34 am 
Smeric
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Who?


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 7:01 am 
Smeric
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Vijay wrote:
Who?

Serafín. I got the same Impression.


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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 10:42 am 
Avisaru
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finlay wrote:
I got the impression he made a typo


...yeah, that would make sense.

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