Abstract

In this article we develop a semantic typology of gradable predicates, with special emphasis on deverbal adjectives. We argue for the linguistic relevance of this typology by demonstrating that the distribution and interpretation of degree modifiers is sensitive to its twomajor classificatory parameters: (1) whether a gradable predicate is associated with what we call an open or closed scale, and (2) whether the standard of comparison for the applicability of the predicate is absolute or relative to a context. We further showthat the classification of an important subclass of adjectives within the typology is largely predictable. Specifically, the scale structure of a deverbal gradable adjective correlates either with the algebraic part structure of the event denoted by its source verb or with the part structure of the entities to which the adjective applies. These correlations underscore the fact that gradability is characteristic not only of adjectives but also of verbs and nouns, and that scalar properties are shared by categorially distinct but derivationally related expressions.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 345-381
Launched on MUSE
2005-06-23
Open Access
No
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