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Sent: Thursday, June 22, 2000 5:43 PM
Subject: Re : Distinction between adjectives and adverbs

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

you disagree with something else than my analyses.
you disagree with semantics.
you think only syntax while i think syntax+semantics,
which you understood from my first line.


(I don't reject all semantic analysis.   I merely think that adverbs and
adjectives are easiest to distinguish by syntactic criteria.)

In "deadly weapon," the adjective refers to the purpose for which the
weapon was designed.
that's why it's adverbal.
So where is the verb that "deadly" modifies?   The fact that a weapon can be
used to kill is said of a weapon, not an action, making "deadly" an
adjective, not an adverb.

A deadly weapon is one designed to seriously injure
or kill,
the process of injuring or killing.
(Interesting that "the process of injuring or killing" is a noun phrase.
Reference to an action can be accomplished with nouns as well as verbs.
The noun "weapon" has a meaning intimately related to its intended use.
This use, injuring or killing, is an action, but "weapon" is nonetheless a

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
deadly refers to one use among many uses, namely to kill.
instruments are more or less specialized.
(So the adjective "deadly" can only apply to "weapon" when it is being used
to kill?)

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.)
you're right : deadly refers to a particular use of the weapon.
did i say there was only one such process?
(Well, I didn't mean to convey that "deadly refers to a particular use of
the weapon."   I meant to convey that "deadly" characterizes the purpose
that the weapon was designed for.   I don't think that a deadly weapon stops
being "deadly" just because it's being used for some purpose other than
killing in a particular instance.)

(I admit, I'm confused by your use of the phrase "a particular use of the
weapon."   Do you mean a particular purpose for which the weapon could be
used in more than one context, or do you mean a particular instance of the
weapon's being used?)

a general is a general, not a nurse.
when you speak of his children, he's a father.
a wise general and a good father are actors of different
fields of activity i think.
(A general is not stripped of his rank merely because he is working with his
children, and reinstated as soon as he resumes his military duties.   He
remains a general all the while.   A wise general who had children might
want to avoid the pitfalls of the constant moving about that military duty
often entails.   Being a general and being a father are both considered
relatively stable statuses.   Though he cannot perform military and parental
duties at the same time (which duties might be described by adverbs), our
man retains the titles of both general and father over a long, stable period
of time (which titles are descibed by adjectives like "wise.")

"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
you mean the games he plays?
btw, according to your round-about method does a player
ever play? is a noun of agent an agent of any process?
Yes, I mean the games he plays.    The noun names the agent, and the verb
names the action.   I'm afraid I see nothing "round-about" in that analysis.

"playing tennis"
is not an entity, but an action,
it's both.
playing tennis is an action.
the fact of playing tennis is an entity.
the action of playing tennis is taken as an entity.
(I suppose a language in which all constituents could be analyzed as noun
phrases could include actions and events in their classes of entities.
Such a language would indeed have no distinction between adverbs and
adjectives.   However, I have never seen the term "entity" used in any
analysis as you have used it here.   Perhaps other listers have.)


maybe we should first agree on what is a substantive,
a predicate, a noun, a verb, an entity, a process, an action, a state, etc.
but we won't because apparently you won't consider the semantic.


I have spent most of this correspondance considering semantics.  But you are
right about our need to agree on the meanings of terms.

I am no expert on case grammar;   but from what I understand ...

I'm not sure what a "substantive" is;   I've heard this word used with
reference to nouns and adjectives with concrete referents.

A predicate, as I understand it, is a symbol or set of symbols that stands
for something ascribed to or equated with something else.   Predicates
usually correspond to comments (defined pragmatically) or verb phrases
(defined syntactically) in sentences.  I'm not sure whether verb phrases
have ever been defined syntactically for all time, but I know a predicate
when I see one in English.

An entity is a thing;   some body or idea that exists or subsists.
An action is what some entity does.
A process is a change that some entity undergoes.
A state is a condition in which some entity remains at least for a time.

A noun can stand for almost anything, including an entity, action, process
or state.   e.g.

dog (entity), war (action), fermentation (process), solidity (state)

That's why I define nouns according to syntactic criteria;   e.g.  can they
be arguments of the verb, do they take adjectives, etc.

A verb can stand for an action, process, or state.

pierce (action), melt (process), vegetate (state)

That's why I define verbs according to syntactic criteria;   e.g.   can they
have arguments, do they take adverbs, etc.

and "good" does not qualify only themention of this action;   it describes
what the entire preceding clausestands for.)
a clause taken as an entity, indeed.

("You play tennis, which is good."   does not mean  "You play tennis, and
playing tennis is good."
did i detail this?

It means "It is good that you play tennis," or
"Your playing tennis is good.")
so what?
(So it's not accurate to say "and in the second 'good' qualify the entities
of 'playing tennis,'" as you wrote in your last post.   That's what.)

i'm sorry to mess up words.
i'm no english native speaker, you know.
shall we keep on this thread in french?
(Your English is vastly superior to my non-existent French.   I have no
doubt that you will learn more as you communicate with more English
speakers.  As a monolingual English speaker, I salute you for becoming
fluent in a language other than your mother tongue.   How many natural
languages do you know, by the way?)

is a horrible accusator a person making horrible accusation
or an ugly accusator?
because you know, accusators like generals are not
always handsome and some are awsome tennis players.
although awsome may refer to the way their children retire.
or reversely.

Ha ha ha!



(In general, you seem to be making distinctions between adjectives and
adverbs according to semantic criteria.
so you got it from the beginning and you still argued? why?
are you an auxlanger?

   It might be simpler for you to
make the distinction on the basis of syntactic criteria.
i make it too. i make both. that what the point of my own post.
if you remember.

  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.)
or the verbs "hidden inside" a noun of agent like "to play" inside
"player" or "to retire&nurse" inside "general".

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?)
a pleasant dancer
a pleasantly dancer

this holds for pleasantly retired and pleasant nursing dancers