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Re: Distinction between adjectives and adverbs

From:Jim Grossmann <steven@...>
Date:Friday, June 23, 2000, 20:24
(comments are interspersed)

----- Original Message -----
From: <Lassailly@...>
To: <CONLANG@...>
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2000 11:42 PM
Subject: Re : Distinction between adjectives and adverbs

Dans un courrier daté du 21/06/00 21:56:28  , Jim a écrit :

i still find it handy to make a difference between a quality determining
a process&state or that of an entity because sometime adjectives
apply to both.

like in "deadly weapon", "deadly" refers to the use of the weapon.
in "a wise general", "wise" refers to the general as an actor of the
of commanding armies, but it could also just mean that the person is
wise generally speaking.

(I disagree with your analyses.)

(In "deadly weapon," the adjective refers to the purpose for which the
weapon was designed.   A deadly weapon is one designed to seriously injure
or kill, as opposed to a non-lethal weapon such as a net-gun.   The
adjective "deadly" can't refer to the actual use of the weapon, since the
actual uses include many actions not described by the meaning of the
adjective.   One can threaten someone with a deadly weapon, but "deadly"
does not mean "threatening."   One can collect deadly weapons, but "deadly"
does not mean "collectable."    One can sell a deadly weapon, but "deadly"
does not mean "saleable."    A deadly weapon could be used a paperweight
but...well, you get the idea.    The adjective refers to the purpose of the
weapon, and so describes the weapon, not an action.)

(In "wise general," "wise" does indeed refer to the actor, and so describes
an entity and not an action.   Although one can assume that it may refer to
the general's military or strategic wisdom, this assumption is not tenable
without contextual information.   In addition to being "wise" generally
speaking, the general could also be wise vis a vis many specific areas of
endeavor besides combat, depending on the context.   A wise general might
plan on getting a private sector job as a consultant after he retires;   or
might try to spend more quality time with his or her children;   or might
try to stay in one place for the sake of the children.)

"you play tennis well" is not quite the same as "you play tennis, which
is good". in the first instance "well" refers to how the process works
and in the second "good" qualify the entity of "playing tennis".

(I disagree on both counts.   "well" in this context does not tell us how a
process works;   it evaluates the person's tennis games.   "playing tennis"
is not an entity, but an action, and "good" does not qualify only the
mention of this action;   it describes what the entire preceding clause
stands for.)

("You play tennis, which is good."   does not mean  "You play tennis, and
playing tennis is good."   It means "It is good that you play tennis," or
"Your playing tennis is good.")

a lot of adjectives refer to both an entity or a process&state, so it's an
important aspect of cross-reference and "ambiguity of language".

(Careful!   "Adjectives" REFER TO qualities;  they DESCRIBE entities,
actions, states, etc.   Witness the phrases "horrible person," "horrible
accusation," and "horrible state".)

(In general, you seem to be making distinctions between adjectives and
adverbs according to semantic criteria.   It might be simpler for you to
make the distinction on the basis of syntactic criteria.  You could do this
even if you don't mark the difference between adjectives and adverbs
mophologically.   An adjective qualifies a noun phrase, even if that noun
phrase stands for an action [accusation, misrepresentation, etc.]   An
adverb qualifies a verb.)

in my conlangs i usually allow myself to make adjectival adverbs
(good-ly) and adverbal adjectives (well-y).

(I'm afraid I don't understand these examples.   Could you illustrate their
contrasting uses in context?)