LINGUIST List 4.359

Tue 11 May 1993

Qs: Adjectives, 'be'

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Q: Languages without Adjectives
  2. Dewi Evans, 'Be' Sentences

Message 1: Q: Languages without Adjectives

Date: Sun, 9 May 93 16:36:28 BSTQ: Languages without Adjectives
From: <>
Subject: Q: Languages without Adjectives

James McCawley (1992) has suggested that there be no such category as
Adjective in Mandarin Chinese after failing to distinguish adjectives
from verbs with a list of universal properties. I like to know if
there are indeed languages without adjectives. Japanese and some
Sino-Tibetan languages can employ 'adjectives' as predicate without a
copula, just like Chinese. I wonder if there is any difficulty in
identifying adjectives in these languages. I will post a summary if
there is interest.

James McCawley (1992) Justifying part-of-speech assignments in
 Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 20, 2,
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Message 2: 'Be' Sentences

Date: Mon, 10 May 93 16:08:44 GM'Be' Sentences
Subject: 'Be' Sentences

 I wonder if anyone could suggest some titles on the syntax of sentences
containing the verb 'be'. My interest stems from a dissatisfaction with
the approaches hitherto applied to Welsh which, from teaching experience,
I have found inadequate.
 Some topics I would be particularly grateful to hear about would be:

Articles - admittedly old if they exist - which argued against the adoption
of Antoine Meillet's nominal/verbal phrase distinction in Indo-European
for the study of modern European languages. (Is his distinction still
used for Indo-European itself?)

Later theoretical discussions on such topics as the division of the copula
functions into attributive, identificatory, locative and temporal;
distinctions such as class inclusion and class membership; the usefulness
of the copula : existential divide.

Studies of such constructions as 'it's difficult to say', 'c'est difficile
a\ dire', 'es ist schwer zu sagen'.

 In the course of unsystematic and sporadic searching I've benefited from
reading works by Emile Benveniste, John Lyons and C.H. Kuhn among others,
and from the journal 'Foundations of Language' (which seems to have died
an early and untimely death to judge from its demise from our library's
shelves), but I am woefully or perhaps blissfully unaware of the most
recent developments.

 Any suggestions sent to me directly would be much appreciated, and I
will then prepare a list of titles for general reading.

 Dewi Evans <>
 Department of Welsh
 University College Dublin
 Dublin 4
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