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716 LANGUAGE, VOLUME 62, NUMBER 3 (1986) separating morphological from lexical operations facilitate such a line of research, enabling us to eliminate the concept of null morphology altogether. Though K does not exhaust her topic, she provides intriguing and highly suggestive insights in this important monograph. [Robert Beard, Bucknell University.] Adjectives and comparison in English: A semantic study. By Jan Rusiecki. (Longman linguistics library, 31.) London & New York: Longman, 1985. Pp. xiv, 206. The Journal ofsemantics 3:1/2 (1984) was a special issue supposedly on the comparative construction; in fact it was devoted almost exclusively to X > Y comparatives (X = primum, Y = secundum comparationis), and there was surprisingly little insight into the meaning of even that comparative. R offers a great deal more in almost exactly the same space: 'a unified approach to the semantics of gradable adjectives in English, in all their forms: the positive degree, the comparative degree, and the superlative degree; and in all their uses: both as predicates ofsentences and as attributes in noun phrases ... A theoretical interpretation of the semantics of gradable adjectives, done in settheoretical terms, is checked against ... the Survey of English Usage corpus, and the results of elicitation tests ...' (xiii). Adjectives are given a crosscut classification as either 'unary scale' (e.g. red) or 'binary scale' (e.g. tall-short), and concomitantly absolute (e.g. wet) or relative (e.g. red, tall) Where necessary, distinction is made between a broad interpretation (Ed is six foot tall 'Ed is 5?0" - 6'2"') and a narrow one (Ed is five foot eleven [ = five feet eleven inches tall] D-» 'Ed is 5' 11"'). Because of the different implications oftheir comparatives, the NP arguments of the adjectives are distinguished depending on whether they refer to individuals or generics; cf. Ed is taller than Jo vs. A giraffe is taller than a gerenuk. For many comparatives, a statement is made about the required or preferred range of values of the measure function for one or both of the argument NP's, expressed in terms of membership of the fuzzy sets many and few: thus John is tall translates as 'Mhj (John) e many feet and inches'; John is short as 'Mh5 (John) e few feet and inches.' Both interpretations have the following conditions: Pragmatic assumption: the speaker assumes the hearer will identify correctly the set S of which the referent of the argument is a member. Empirical normality condition: ? units e |Hs|. (pp. 36, 73) Mhs is the measure function for the height of the set S, and |Hs] is the fuzzy set of numbers expressing the possible values for set S on the scale for the dimension H. R claims that his 'measure function' is not subject to the objections raised against 'average' or 'median', found in other semantic descriptions of these adjectives ; but I can see no substantive difference. R reports experiments where, given sentences like X is tall or X isn't short, subjects judged how tall X was. The results are interesting for the definition of fuzzy sets such as |tall men|, (old women| etc. R also carried out many experiments in which he got people tojudge, e.g., the respective heights of X and Y, given sentences like X is taller than Y or X is shorter than Y. I cannot see how such tests have any value. It is relative dimensions (height or whatever) which are compared in X Y, X < Y etc. and not the actual dimensions of X and Y. The motivation for such pointless tests is a mistaken belief(also held by many others) that comparisons should be reduced to a standard scale ofdiscrete measurements. But this is rarely necessary . In X is not so tall as Y, we infer that 'X < Y in height'; but there is no mention of a standard metric (meters, feet etc.), and I see no reason to invoke one just because it is readily available. In Ed waxed the car more carefully than Jo washed it, we readily understand the comparative degrees of care mentioned without having recourse to a standard scale of measurement for care. Why invoke such a standard for some comparatives if not for all? Notwithstanding my gripes about certain aspects of R's analysis, anyone seriously interested in the semantics of gradable adjectives and their comparative degrees will find this book very useful. [Keith Allan, Monash University.] Epistemische Bedeutung. By Monika Doherty. (Studia grammatica, 23.) Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1985. Pp. 160. M 15.00. BOOK NOTICES 717 It is well known that most sentences, alongside their 'prepositional meaning', have, when uttered, a certain illocutionary force. It may be less obvious that all sentences, when uttered, contain an 'epistemic meaning'—which reflects , among other things, the speaker's attitude toward the propositional meaning: it is impossible for a human being to talk without taking a position concerning the truth of the communicated message. Doherty assumes that epistemic meaning is expressed partly by the elements which are used to render the propositional meaning, and partly by other elements. The latter group includes two basic categories: (a) sentential adverbs and the positive or negative form of an utterance specify attitudes, while (b) the syntactic, lexical , and phonological forms of statements, questions, and clauses specify attitudinal moods. Some expressions mark both attitude and attitudinal mood, e.g. the so-called German 'Einstellungspartikeln'; and D's study concentrates on the epistemic meaning conveyed by the particles doch, etwa, denn, ja, and wohl. Only in the past few years have German scholars become increasingly aware of the importance of particles in their language. This might sound a little surprising. The abundant use of particles is one of the most salient features of German and Dutch, as opposed to English . A few decades ago, A. Reichling drew attention to the importance of particles in Dutch. His work, however, has not been translated into English, and has never obtained the success it deserves. D's book includes 24 chapters, in three main parts. Chs. 1-10 deal with the basic elements required for the description ofthe particles studied . The description proper occupies Chs. 1118 . The remaining chapters explore some ofthe relevant epistemic contexts for 'Einstellungspartikeln '. D argues that each particle has a single invariant meaning, which is then differentiated in terms of context. This is a highly attractive view: new evidence is offered, however indirectly, for the assumption that the entire lexicon (and notjust categories like nouns, adjectives, and verbs) is articulated in so-called semantic or lexical fields. In the early 40's, a similar assumption was put forward by K. Reuning , whose work too is little known, although it was written in English. The original text, a 1981 Berlin dissertation from the Humboldt-Universität, has been thoroughly revised, but no effort has been made to update the bibliography. This is unfortunate, since recent attempts to approach the study of particles in terms of 'lexical fields' are not considered (cf. H. Weydt's 'Partikelanalyse und Wortfeldmethode: Doch, immerhin, jedenfalls, schließlich, wenigstens', published in a volume edited by Weydt: Die Partikeln der deutschen Sprache, 395-413, 1979). D's original contribution to the study of German particles is a highly interesting work. It will, if one believes D, 'meet with opposition as it trespasses into semantic areas which have, so far, been excluded from all logically stricter models' (160). But is that not a guarantee for the progress of linguistics as a whole? It is to be hoped that D's apprehension will become true! [Bert Peeters, Aarschot, Belgium.] Le Tavole Iguvine. By Aldo ProsdociMi . (Lingue e iscrizioni delPItalia antica, 4.) Firenze: Olschki, 1984. Pp. 239, with a separate album of photos. The Iguvine Tables are among the most important ritual resources of the classical world. Discovered in 1444 at Gubbio in north central Italy, the seven bronze tablets are preserved there in the Palazzo dei Consoli. They represent the most significant extant monuments of Umbrian. Since many editions of the Tables exist, one might ask why Prosdocimi has undertaken the task of producing yet another. The answer is apparent when P's stunningly clear and detailed account is viewed in comparison with earlier modern editions such as those by G. Devoto, G. Bottiglioni, and J. Poultney, as well as older ones by such scholars as M. Bréal, R. S. Conway , C. D. Buck, and R. von Planta. The special feature of P's account among modern editions lies primarily in the fact that it does not attempt to be a grammar of Umbrian based on the Tables : rather, it is a historical/epigraphical/philological treatise, full ofdetailed discussion of the physical characteristics of the Tables and their interpretation. The main volume has two primary sections, plus an appendix by A. Maggiani. Part I, 'Fortuna delle tavole: Dal ritrovamento a C. R. Lepsius ', provides a critical chronological account of the issues surrounding the number of Tables (seven have survived, but there may have been one or two others); the date and place of the ...

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ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 716-717
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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