Gradability, scale structure, and the division of labor between nouns and adjectives: The case of Japanese

David Y. Oshima, Kimi Akita, Shin Ichiro Sano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Japanese has three major "adjective-like"word classes, which roughly correspond to "adjectives", "adjectival nouns", and "precopular nouns"in Martin's (1975) A Reference Grammar of Japanese. This work explores how the three classes contrast semantically, paying special attention to the notion of gradability. Their scale-structural characteristics, in comparison with the English adjective class, will be examined, aiming to contribute to a better understanding of how languages may contrast in terms of (i) how different kinds of stative predicates divide the labor in encoding different kinds of state concepts, and (ii) how the niche of their noun class (as a major part-of-speech) is delimited. The major findings include (i) that "adjectives"and "adjectival nouns"have a strong tendency to encode relative gradable concepts, (ii) that "precopular nouns"tend to be nongradable, and (iii) none of the three Japanese classes is closely tied to the feature of absolute gradability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalGlossa
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • Adjectival noun
  • Gradability
  • Grammatical category
  • Japanese
  • Stative predicate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics

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