Wiktionary talk:English adjectives

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What do the question marks and exclamation marks ("able to !", "being ?" etc.) mean? - -sche 03:23, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

The notation is styled after that used in chess notation for "good" (!) and "bad" (?) moves. They are somewhat evaluative of the desirability of the phrase in definitions. The ones marked with ? use archaic terms. DCDuring TALK 11:34, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

This sentence causes me to stumble:

  • "But consider "the comely girl". It seems an adjective. But one can readily find "the very comely girl", "most comely", "comeliest", "comelier". Even forms of "become comely" at Google books."

Specifically, I wonder if it should be "It seems an adverb" (because it ends in -ly) "but one can readily find" (use of it as an adjective, because it is an adjective), or "It seems an adjective" (given its place in that sentence fragment) "and one can readily find". (But implicitly negates what precedes it.) - -sche (discuss) 22:25, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Indeed. A lack of good proof-reading on my part and of attention from others. Thanks for reading and correcting. I know that I make numerous errors of that type. So don't feel too inhibited in correcting them. If I disagree, I will let you know, without rancor or, at least, without long-lasting rancor. DCDuring TALK 20:49, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

Other tests[edit]

These tests, from [1], might be incorporated (if warranted) when this page is revised: use with "solely", "purely", and probably "thoroughly". On the other hand, see [2]. - -sche (discuss) 18:18, 18 August 2011 (UTC)

I have been reworking the tests-page here. Most of the difference between the current page and my draft is in form (and I am easily persuaded not to change the form of the current page much), but the places I have underlined represent substantive additions: possible new tests, or language to clarify existing points. My draft is very rough at the moment, but I post it here so others might look over particularly these new tests (some of which may not be very useful, as they prove words are not rather than are adjectives) and see if they are valid/useful. - -sche (discuss) 00:56, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
I like many of your changes, but have some reservations about others. Would you prefer that I edit this page to incorporate stuff from your draft that I agree are improvements, or that I be bold in editing your draft myself, or something else? —RuakhTALK 01:10, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
Whichever you prefer. I would hold off on adding the substantive, new "Other tests (from elsewhere)" to this page until seeing what DCDuring thought of them, but other than that, I say you should be bold in editing either page. - -sche (discuss) 01:40, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

I've added a section about the requirement for a predicand.--Brett 23:25, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Use with an implied noun[edit]

I find this section very hard to understand. It seems to be concerned with whether a word can function as a fused head in an NP. Is that right?--Brett 11:06, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

That's right. —RuakhTALK 11:08, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
What does this test for? DCDuring TALK 11:51, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
It's an extension of attributive use: "Give me your tiredA, your poorA" is fine; *"Give me your needing sleepprsprt, your at an economic disadvantagePP" is not. I think it also can help clarify the difference between an adjective and an attributive noun (in a way that will help clarify Lmaltier (talkcontribs)'s comment linked-to from Talk:liberticide, for example), though so far the section doesn't attempt to do that. —RuakhTALK 15:04, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Requirement for a predicand doesn't seem to be a test[edit]

AFAICT, the section headed "requirement for a predicand" doesn't seem to be terribly useful as a test of adjectivity because only some classes of adjectives have such predicands. It is a feature of some adjectives that is useful to record. What PoS or other distinction does it test for? DCDuring TALK 11:50, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

I believe that Brett (talkcontribs) is saying that almost all adjectives have predicands. And that's true, isn't it? There do exist non-predicating adjectives (e.g., a biomedical engineer is not an engineer that is biomedical), but these fail almost every test for adjectivity — they behave almost exactly like attributive nouns, so about the only test they don't fail is the "is it used attributively?" test — so that's hardly something to fault this test for. The test requires some caution (the predicand isn't always a noun or noun phrase — in "it's good to be king", for example, I think it's the infinitive phrase — and in the fused head construction, like "give me your tired", the predicand is internal), but that's also true of all of the tests. We're not to the point of giving people tests they can apply mindlessly. —RuakhTALK 15:32, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps it would be helpful to split the page into different sections for Tests of whether or not a word is an adjective and Other attributes of adjectives? By the way, an engineer might not be biomedical, but research could be. (Your point is still good, though. Perhaps aliquot or aforesaid is an example of it? I recall the former from RFV.) - -sche (discuss) 18:50, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I think you misunderstand me. I'm not saying that biomedical is never predicating; rather, I'm saying that most adjectives are always predicating — or almost always. (Well, actually, the non-predicating nature of biomedical here is a property of engineer, which optionally takes a preceding noun or adjective as complement, rather than of biomedical itself; but the predicatingness test for adjectiveness is predicated (pardon the pun) on a general rule that if it's not predicating, then it's probably not an adjective.)
To re-address DCDuring's original point — y'know, there's a qualitative difference between this test and the others. Most of the tests on the page are ways to see if a word is ever an adjective — e.g., if it ever gets modified by very, then it probably is an adjective when modified by very, and therefore it probably is sometimes (or always) an adjective, period; but the predicatingness test is more of a way to see if a word is ever not an adjective. If it ever doesn't have a predicand, then it probably isn't an adjective when it doesn't have a predicand, and therefore it probably is not always (or not ever) an adjective. And the "biomedical engineer" sort of counterexample can be dealt with by casting the test as applying only to adjuncts, as in the example Brett gave.
Overall, I now think that I've essentially been sabotaging the page's original intent, and that Brett has continued that. DCDuring apparently intended this page as a way to justify deleting an ===Adjective=== section (or a sense in such a section) that doesn't have at least three cites meeting some set of criteria. Since I reject that approach as combative and counterproductive — I think it's better to examine attested usage and try to figure out what POS(es) a given word belongs to, and classify it accordingly — my attempts to expand and improve the page have not really been compatible with that original intent. That said, I don't actually regret my sabotage, :-P since DCDuring had been linking to this page as though its contents were accurate and it could already be used to justify deletions, and the major effect of my edits has been to make the contents more accurate and less able to justify spurious deletions.
RuakhTALK 19:57, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, wait a sec, I may be messing up the terminology here. Even in something like -sche's example of "biomedical research", where "biomedical" is a normal modifier (rather than a complement), I think "biomedical" is not a predicate and doesn't have a predicand; modifiers have modificands, and I don't think modificands are a type of predicand, are they? So when Brett says that "Adjectives will typically require a predicand", he must not mean adjectives in attributive position . . . right? —RuakhTALK 20:16, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, I was referring not to phrases like "biomedical research" per se but to phrases like "the research problem was biomedical in nature" or *¿"biomedical, the research was supported by the Foundation for Biomedicine". I'm not sure I understand the terminology now, though! :P - -sche (discuss) 20:23, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
It helps us distinguish between adjectives taking NP complements and prepositions, in cases like: effective, due, like, long (sense 4), near, overweight (sense missing, finance). unlike, worth, etc. It may also become more valuable when if English Wiktionary decides to acknowledge intransitive prepositions.--Brett 22:48, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Overall organization[edit]

This was originally just a home for tests of adjectivity. It would be useful to have some information on the behavior of adjectives in general, especially behavior that might tempt a contributor to add a PoS section that would lead to redundancy. An example is the fused head, which might lead someone to add a Noun PoS section. Probably, such discussion should precede the tests. Possibly the tests should be on a separate page. Or should the general behavior be in an Appendix and Wiktionary space be reserved for aspects that are more oriented to lexicographic issues? DCDuring TALK 12:02, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree that the page should have and distinguish both tests and general information; in fact, I just expressed the same sentiment in the preceding section before I saw this. :) - -sche (discuss) 18:53, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Following up on my comment in the preceding section . . . I'd be O.K. with more-or-less eliminating the tests. Appendix:English adjectives should explain the behavior of adjectives in general. It can (and should!) mention ways in which adjectives can resemble other parts of speech, and ways in which other parts of speech can resemble adjectives, and maybe some "tests" to see if a word is actually acting as an adjective in a given sentence; but I don't think a general-purpose list of tests of adjectivity, without context, is really likely to be useful. —RuakhTALK 20:03, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I think it's useful to have the tests somewhere, either here or on a related page. We consider some words nouns, others adjectives, others adverbs (and some words both adjectives and nouns, etc); we should explain to users how we've come to determine (and how they can determine) that those first words are nouns and not adjectives, etc. Because English lacks the simple markers some other languages have, the more comprehensive battery of tests is needed. - -sche (discuss) 20:51, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I thought Wiktionary pages is for "inside" issues, lexicographical stuff, "policy" etc. As such it would seem desirable to construct pages that are specific to the purpose. Criteria for inclusion, matters of format and presentation seem like such inside stuff. I think PoS presentation is an important instance, too. We rightly give weight to the conventional knowledge of our users, so we cannot simply accept new classes of words without some justification. The Determiner and Prepositional phrase cases illustrate our cautious attitude toward change. I don't see that there is sufficient unanimity of belief among linguists for us to simply say that they have made all decisions for us. We need to make decisions such as which classes of words we include, how we present a PoS for multi-word terms. We have appendix space for grammatical topics aimed at ordianry users and already use that space in that way. See Category:English grammar appendices. Obviously our "inside" decisions are informed by the general state of knowledge about language and about English in particular so the two types of pages are not independent. DCDuring TALK 23:19, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree, the Wiktionary: namespace is the appropriate place for the tests. I think this page is an (not necessarily the only) appropriate place for them. - -sche (discuss) 01:26, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
When you say "tests of adjectivity", do you mean only tests that, if passed, suggest adjectivity, or do you also mean to include tests that, if failed, disqualify adjectivity?--Brett 22:52, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Certainly both necessary and sufficient tests are useful. Generally, the previous set of tests was applied so that passing any single test with three citations in addition to attributive use was sufficient to justify the creation of an adjective section. In some cases, I think three instances of adjective behavior other than attributive was sufficient, ie, one instance of comparison, one instance of grading, one use as predicate.
Also, please note that a semantically distinct sense is sufficient as well. However, practically, this is problematic as one can always word a definition to make it difficult to compare a sense worded for an adjective with a sense that is a standard transformation of a noun sense to serve as definition for attributive use of that noun. Our definitions do not even adhere to any version of a standard of substitutability, which might facilitate comparisons or definitions aimed at different PoSes. DCDuring TALK 23:19, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Tests of noun-ness[edit]

Some (potential) tests which show that adjectives are nouns, rather than the other way around, are discussed on Talk:minacious. - -sche (discuss) 22:39, 29 November 2012 (UTC)