This book shows that every language has an adjective class and examines how
these vary in size and character. The opening chapter considers current
generalizations about the nature and classification of adjectives and sets
out the cross-linguistic parameters of their variation. Thirteen chapters
then explore adjective classes in languages from North, Central and South
America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Studies of well-known
languages such as Russian, Japanese, Korean and Lao are juxtaposed with the
languages of small hunter-gatherer and slash-and-burn agriculturalist
groups. All are based on fine-grained field research. The nature and
typology of adjective classes are then reconsidered in the conclusion.
This pioneering work shows, among other things, that the grammatical
properties of the adjective class may be similar to nouns or verbs or both
or neither; that some languages have two kinds of adjectives, one hard to
distinguish from nouns and the other from verbs; that the adjective class
can sometimes be large and open, and in other cases small and closed.