[developers] MOD value in predicative only adjectives

Emily M. Bender ebender at uw.edu
Fri Apr 25 01:08:44 CEST 2014

Thanks for the clarification Dan.  I'm a bit puzzled about the distinction
that PRD +/- marks then.  PRD - apparently doesn't mean "can't be
attributive" (which is what we were taking it to mean) but rather "can't be
a pre-nominal modifier".  Do you think that all adjectives must be
potentially attributive, just not necessarily pre-nominally?

(I don't have any examples of non-attributves off the top of my head.  I'm
looking here for the counter part to "mere", which is attributive-only.)


On Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 3:50 PM, Dan Flickinger <danf at stanford.edu> wrote:

> Hi T.J. (and Woodley) -
> As Woodley notes, there are two contexts in which predicative adjectives
> can appear:
> (1) in copula constructions as in |the ships are afloat|
> (2) as postnominal modifiers as in |the ships afloat reappeared|
> While you're right that the MOD value is unneeded for the copula use, that
> non-empty value is necessary for the postnominal use, since the ERG
> combines "ships" with "afloat" using a head-modifier construction.  Hence
> the boolean PRD feature is used to distinguish attributive from predicative
> adjectives, and not the MOD value.
> Woodley's example |the dogs awake arise| might sound awkward, but |anyone
> awake at that hour must be crazy| is impeccable, suggesting that there is a
> "heaviness" element involved in the acceptability of single-word
> post-nominal adjectives, and hence maybe something about information
> structure is at play.  However, even the single-word ones can sound fine:
>  |the only rooms available are doubles|
>  |the first person awake was the old man|
> As for Woodley's |I found the dogs awake|, this has several readings which
> may obscure the issue of postnominal modification -- one with the
> three-argument "find" as in |I found him (to be) amusing|, and one with
> transitive "find" and a "depictive" adjective, as in |I found the keys
> (while I was) blindfolded|.  Perhaps more to the immediate point is an
> example like |I fed the children awake at dawn an early breakfast|.  The
> awkwardness of |I fed the children awake an early breakfast| is, on my
> current view, not an issue of grammaticality, but something (mysterious) to
> do with pragmatics.
>  Dan
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Woodley Packard" <sweaglesw at sweaglesw.org>
> To: "T.J. Trimble" <trimblet at me.com>
> Cc: developers at delph-in.net
> Sent: Thursday, April 24, 2014 2:16:32 PM
> Subject: Re: [developers] MOD value in predicative only adjectives
> Interesting question, T.J.; I would also like to know the answer to this
> one.  One side effect seems to be the prediction that the following string
> is grammatical:
> The dogs awake arise.
> i.e. the predicative-only adjective "awake" is allowed to modify
> post-nominally.  To me this is a surprising prediction; but maybe those on
> the list with more flexible minds won't have an issue with it.  Other
> constructions such as "I found the dogs awake." get their own analysis,
> with the "awake" predicate a scopal argument of "find," so they can't be
> the explanation here.
> -Woodley
> On Apr 24, 2014, at 1:57 PM, "T.J. Trimble" <trimblet at me.com> wrote:
> > So, two related questions about the ERG or about these sort of
> constructions in other grammars/languages:
> >
> > 1) Are there any examples of the MOD value of these predicative only
> adjectives being utilized?
> >
> > 2) Is there any compelling reason to use PRD +/– to constrain this
> instead of MOD < >?

Emily M. Bender
Associate Professor
Department of Linguistics
Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma
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