adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:10 am

A little English anarchy in this area from Prof J Lawler:

In the sentence Her teeth gleamed white against the tanned skin of her face.
- it seems ‘white’ is an adjunct modifying 'gleamed' ... (Listenever) ('English Language and Usage')

- It's not helpful to think about "adjectives making adjuncts modifying verbs". Part of speech is governed by use in constructions, not the other way around. And adjunct is a question-begging term; if one's audience knows and believes all the same answers to the questions it begs, then it's safe to use. But I doubt this is the case ... – John Lawler
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by dante » Tue Feb 05, 2013 7:52 am

It's not helpful to think about "adjectives making adjuncts modifying verbs". Part of speech is governed by use in constructions, not the other way around.
You'll guess I disagree with this Edwin :) Following this principle that a particular use of words solely determines the part of speech would lead to either ridiculously fluid categorization of word classes or to ridiculous inconsistencies in their definition. Focusing only on a particular use of words and forgetting its other uses and other syntactic properties can obviously be terribly misleading. I agree that adjectives should not be understood as modifying verbs. The construction you gave looks like a typical construction where an adverb modifies the verb or the proposition expressed by the predicate but it isn't analyzed that way. "White" is an adjective functioning as a predicative adjunct in the sentence, and it doesn't beg a question for me :) The term "predicative adjunct" is for me best understood as separate, secondary predication, for example:

Boyce still stood white and gasping, unable to move a muscle or utter a sound.

What we are saying is: "Boyce was standing and Boyce was white in the face and gasping and Boyce was unable to move a muscle or utter a sound". The "white and gasping" part is analyzed the same as "unable to move a muscle or utter a sound" even the latter element is separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma. You could say that "white and gasping" is more integrated in the sentence structure and is to be analyzed as predicative adjunct, while "unable to move a muscle or utter a sound", although having the identical semantic function of characterizing the subject, is analyzed as supplement - a different syntactic constituent, by virtue of being markedly detached from the rest of the sentence in speech and writing. The same analysis would apply in any similar example, for example:

I stood broken, but not defeated.

I was standing, trying to take all this in.


If we used past progressive in your sentence "Her teeth were gleaming white against the tanned skin of her face", I guess that a native speaker would outright reject the analysis of "gleaming" as a modifier of "white", similar to "boiling hot" or "spanking new", and that "gleamingly" would be required there.

EDIT: I've checked on the internet and I was obviously wrong, the number of results indicates that "gleaming white" is a perfect collocation. Obviously I'm not much familiar with the use of -ing words as adjective modifiers.
Last edited by dante on Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Feb 05, 2013 10:59 am

I'm sure the good Professor doesn't mean crude distributional word-order when he talks about 'constructions', Dante - he wouldn't parse

He is white. &

He is White.

identically, even if they were both written totally in upper-case letters (in a headline, say).

Nor, as we've mentioned before,

He took the dog a bone. &

He took the dog a walk.

He'd say that

A Bob turned white. &

B Bob turned slowly.

are different constructions.

Confusingly, the distribution (positioning) of the words white and slowly is (in these constructions) obviously identical.

However, the modifier in sentence A is modifying (refers back to) the noun (here describing a resulting attribute of the referent) (as you indeed say). It is an adjective (usage - ie the sort of construction it appears in - defines what part of speech it is).

But the modifier in sentence B is modifying the verb - how is the action proceeding. We have a different construction here (though it is formally noun + verb + modifier as in A). The construction (the way the components are being used) determines what part of speech they each are.

In

Flying aeroplanes can be dangerous.

the word-class of flying is not determined - participial adjective, or verbal noun with object or whatever (I'd just call 'flying aeroplanes' a gerund clause when it means 'the flying of aeroplanes').

And in

Gento shot wide.,

wide has been argued to be indeterminate - adverb (describing the actual shooting) / adjective (describing the resulting ball position).
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by dante » Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:32 am

This modification of adjectives by an -ing words is really interesting. Some -ing words commonly used as epithets can also modify another epithet, while others require adverbial morpheme -ly added to it to perform the same function. So we can say:

burning/scorching hot, gleaming/shining white, freezing cold etc.

I guess that all of these have -ly alternative as a less frequent usage.

On the other hand, it seems that most -ing words that can be used as epithets cannot modify another adjective, unless the adverbial morpheme -ly is added:

confusingly similar (but not "confusing similar")

endearingly human (but not "endearing human")

arrestingly beautiful (but not "arresting beautiful")


What do you say Edwin?
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:06 pm

dante wrote:Some -ing words commonly used as epithets can also modify another epithet, while others require adverbial morpheme -ly added to it to perform the same function. So we can say:

burning/scorching hot, gleaming/shining white, freezing cold etc.

I guess that all of these have -ly alternative as a less frequent usage.
Some do; most don't:

? burningly hot
scorchingly hot
* gleamingly white
* shiningly white (but shinily white)
* freezingly cold

I can't detect any specific characteristics of these epithet-modifying adjectives that will reliably predict which ones will sound normal when suffixed with -ly, and which will sound barbarous. It is in any case most likely somewhat subjective (for instance, 'gleamingly white' may sound acceptable or normal to some people).
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by dante » Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:18 pm

With the exception of a few of these "ingly" adverbs, such as seemingly, confusingly, interestingly and several others, most of them sound too "heavy" to me. It was the more surprising to me that I got quite a lot of hits on Google for each of the words I mentioned, even "burningly" which feels the most awkward among them. Here's from Wordnik http://www.wordnik.com/words/burningly, which cited some respectable sources using "burningly hot/obsessive.." The favoured option in modifying epithets though, where both are applicable, is invariably the one without the -ly ending.
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by Edwin F Ashworth » Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:21 pm

One would have to be penetratingly insightful to be able to predict licensing on the grounds of 'not sounding too heavy'. Here are a few examples that have attained collocate or near-collocate status: stultifyingly ill-informed; undeviatingly focused; unhesitatingly generous; unrelentingly hot; unshrinkingly brave; unswervingly loyal; sweepingly high-handed; tellingly placed. Of course, secondary modifiers (subset adjective-modifying) do not need to end in -ingly: substantially true; supremely confident; terminally ill; too acidic; totally exhausted.

Note the small morphological classes of –ing forms (A) and ‘straight’ adjective look-alikes (B) used as secondary modifiers; there is also, of course, the vastly greater –ly form class (adverb look-alikes).

(A) barking mad; hopping mad; raving mad; stark-staring mad; fighting drunk; dripping wet; baking/boiling/scorching hot; piping hot; freezing cold; stinking rich; lightning fast; fighting mad; fighting fit; spanking clean; (brand spanking new) gleaming white; shining white; finger-lickin’ good
[sometimes biting cold – when cold is an adjective rather than a noun!]

(B) blind drunk; dead straight; dead slow; fast asleep; filthy rich; mad keen; plain stupid; plumb loco; sore afraid; squeaky clean; wide awake; downright idiotic; drop-dead gorgeous; lead pipe cinch; stone cold sober

The -ly - form secondary modifiers, whether degree or more semantic, accept a greater variety of adjectives:

He is highly rated / valued / esteemed / sexed ....

He is surprisingly agile / intelligent / tall / late ....
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by dante » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:58 am

A separate problem would be the use of -ed verbs in a similar manner, as in the sentence you helped me with in the other thread:

The political dialogue between the two countries has been developing unhindered/unimpeded.

The same as with the dilemma -ing or -ingly here we have alternatives -ed and -edly. Although unhinderedly/unimpededly would be unacceptable, some other verbs would require -ly morpheme added to the past participle in its "adverbial" uses:

He was as deservedly honored for his support of civil rights.

A hobby he devotedly pursues to this day..

Clare Balding is undoubtedly a good thing, but are we in danger of ..


Again, no rules seem to emerge explaining the preference for one or the other usage. A trouble for me :)
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:14 am

dante wrote:Again, no rules seem to emerge explaining the preference for one or the other usage. A trouble for me :)
I do detect a difference in feel with these sentences.

With
The political dialogue between the two countries has been developing {unhindered / unimpeded},
the bolded descriptive terms have a distinctly verb-like sense -- the state of affairs they are describing is closely associated with the (in)action connected with those (ad)verbs.

But with
He was as deservedly honored for his support of civil rights.

A hobby he devotedly pursues to this day..

Clare Balding is undoubtedly a good thing, but are we in danger of ..
,
the sense of the bolded terms as being merely descriptive adverbs is dominant.

Switching to a different issue that arises from your posting, you typed the aside,
A trouble for me.
Now,

Troubles = problems / worries (note the plural form):
He sat down and told me about his troubles.
A trouble ≠ a problem:
*Houston, we have a trouble.
Instead of the singular form of trouble preceded by the indefinite article, you have to say something like a problem, a difficulty or an issue:
Houston, we have a problem.
Houston, we have a difficulty.
Houston, we have an issue.
But with the definite article,

The trouble = the problem:
The trouble with your mother is that she always tries to interfere with our decisions.
Don't ask me why this difference exists regarding the application of the singular usage of 'trouble' versus the plural; I have no idea.

I'm only an end-user of the language, not its programmer. :-)
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Re: adjuncts: modifiers and supplements (as per CGEL)

Post by dante » Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:33 am

On the second thought, I'd also say that "unhindered" has a verb sense which clearly separates it from the "edly" adverbial variants. I'd say that "hindered" is a bare passive clause functioning as a catenative complement in that sentence. Thank you for correcting my mistake. The trouble is that difficulty, problem and trouble all have a very similar meaning. (Hope that my use of "trouble" there makes sense now :))
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