On 28 February 2018 at 14:59, Kevin Walker
<[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Hello all,
> On Wed, Feb 28, 2018, 1:08 PM Logan Kearsley <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> In contrast, there is no way to distinguish restrictive vs.
>> non-restrictive adjectives (apart from relativizing a predicate
>> adjective clause) in English. So, now I'm wondering, is there any
>> natlang precedent for a regular (either syntactic or morphological)
>> distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive attributive
>> adjectives? If not, is there a conlang precedent known to the List?
> Could Slavic definite adjectives have something to do with this? They are
> apparently from adjectives with attached relativizers.
> I have never been able to get my head around them otherwise, (or Germanic
> adjective endings, for that matter), especially since in both families'
> cases the marking on adjectives predated marking on nouns (Gothic
> adjectives end differently when preceded by a demonstrative if memory
> serves).


Quoting from that thread:

""" Lithuanian, the same opposition of simple/compound adjectives is
used (as the grammars tell) to put the emphasis on the adjective
rather than the noun: «žalias obuolys» means both "a green apple" and
"the green apple", while «žaliasis obuolys» means "a/the apple which
is green, which differs by its green color".

Thus, in the opposition «зелено ꙗблъко» vs. «зеленоѥ ꙗблъко» the
second variant puts an emphasis on the uniqueness of the meaning
expressed by the adjective (the green apple among apples of other
color). With time, the meaning shifted: in some languages (South
Slavic ones), towards expressing indefiniteness/definiteness of the
noun; in others, the meaning became identical, with differences in
syntactical usage or in stylistic flavor.

By the way, you can find this across the literature and even in
manuals of the Old Slavonic. Simply, since this distinction seems to
be absent in any modern European language but Lithuanian, people by
default don't pay attention to the subtleties and classify the old
definiteness of adjectives as just a special case of definiteness of

That does indeed seem to correspond with the restrictiveness
distinction in Engl. relative clauses, with the "definite" / long-form
adjectives serving a restrictive function, and "indefinite" /
short-form adjectives being unspecified for restrictivity. Meanwhile,
Russian (the slavic language that I actually know) falls into that
category of languages in which the meanings became identical, which
differences in usage determined by syntax.