The Typology of Parts of Speech Systems: The Markedness of Adjectives

The Typology of Parts of Speech Systems: The Markedness of Adjectives

2002 | ISBN-10: 0415941555, 0415864992 | 232 Pages | PDF, EPUB | 18 MB

from the Introduction
Ask a layperson what they know about grammar and you are likely to get an
answer that has something to do with parts of speech; ask a linguist what they
know about parts of speech and the answer is quite likely to be much less en-
lightening. Parts of speech systems or, as I will refer to them here, lexical
classes are among the most frequently overlooked aspects of linguistic analysis,
yet they are at the same time among the most fundamental elements of language.
Lexical classes playa key role in most-if not all-syntactic theories, they are
the cornerstones of lexicography and lexical semantics, and they are crucial
elements in morphological analysis, yet precise and rigorous definitions of these
classes have never been successfully formulated. More often than not, lexical
classes are treated merely as primitives, either in terms of input to rules, deter-
minants of underlying phrase structure, governors of inflectional patterns, or as
sources of valency and subcategorization frames. Thus, class-designations such
as "verb," "adjective," and "noun" are the linchpins of semantic, syntactic, and
morphological structure, but the terms themselves are rarely defined and their
properties, both formal and functional, are often taken for granted. While it is
certainly possible to carry out linguistic analysis without a clear definition of the
basic units involved (as long as the identity of these units can be agreed upon),
any theory which proceeds without a full understanding of its own primitives
rests on uncertain foundationsˇ­


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