Advertisement

Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 843–879 | Cite as

Intensification without degrees cross-linguistically

  • Andrea Beltrama
  • M. Ryan Bochnak
Article

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the semantics of two cross-categorial modifiers that receive an interpretation of intensification: -issimo in Italian, and šému in Washo. Given that both modifiers can combine with a wide range of categories, including those not typically considered grammatically gradable, we argue against an analysis of these modifiers along the lines of e.g., Kennedy and McNally (Language 81(2):345–381, 2005) for very, as uniformly boosting a degree standard. Rather, we argue that the type of modification found with -issimo and šému is one that manipulates a contextual parameter present in the modified expressions, and more specifically universally quantifies over possible contexts of evaluation. Such an analysis allows us to account for the wide distribution of these modifiers, and their co-occurrence with categories that do not encode degree variables. We therefore argue for a typological split in the landscape of intensifiers, both across and within languages, between those that track degree variables, and those that do not.

Keywords

Intensification Modification Gradability Degree semantics Expressives Italian Washo 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank audiences at the workshop “Modification (with & without modifiers)—MDF2011” in Madrid, Semantics of Underrepresented Languages of the Americas 6 in Manchester, and Illinois Language and Linguistics Society 4 for feedback on various versions of this work. We are particularly grateful for helpful discussion and comments from Heather Burnett, Itamar Francez, Daniel Gutzmann, Vera Hohaus, Stefan Hofstetter, Chris Kennedy, Peter Klecha, Yaron McNabb, Maria Napoli, Malvina Nissim and Galit Sassoon. Comments from three anonymous reviewers also greatly improved this paper, especially in terms of organization and argumentation. Ryan Bochnak would like to thank Washo elders Ramona Dick and Steven James for their patience and help with the Washo language. Bochnak’s fieldwork was supported by grants from the Jacobs Fund of the Whatcom Museum, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Science Foundation under grant #1155196. We also thank Elena Castroviejo and Berit Gehrke for organizing, editing, and including us in this special issue. All errors and oversights are our own responsibility.

References

  1. Anand, Pranav, and Andrew Nevins. 2004. Shifty indexicals in changing contexts. In Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 14, ed. Robert Young, 20–37. Ithaca: CLC Publications. Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, Curt. 2013. Gradability in the absence of degree scales. Talk presented at Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 23, University of California, Santa Cruz. Google Scholar
  3. Barker, Chris. 2002. The dynamics of vagueness. Linguistics and Philosophy 25: 1–36. doi: 10.1023/A:1014346114955. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beltrama, Andrea. 2014. Scalar meaning in diachrony: The suffix -issimo from Latin to Italian. In Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 44, eds. Jyoti Iyer and Leland Kusmer. Vol. 1, 29–41. Amherst: GLSA. Google Scholar
  5. Bochnak, M. Ryan. 2013a. Cross-linguistic variation in the semantics of comparatives. PhD diss., University of Chicago, Chicago. Google Scholar
  6. Bochnak, M. Ryan. 2013b. The non-universal status of degrees: evidence from Washo. In North East Linguistics Society (NELS) 42, eds. Stefan Keine and Shayne Sloggett, 79–92. Amherst: GLSA. Google Scholar
  7. Bogal-Allbritten, Elizabeth. 2014. Slightly coerced: Processing evidence for adjectival coercion by minimizers. In Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS) 48, ed. Andrea Beltrama et al. Google Scholar
  8. Burnett, Heather. 2014. From quantification and intensification to slack regulation: adjectival ALL. In Chicago Linguistics Society (CLS) 48, ed. Andrea Beltrama et al. Chicago: Chicago Linguistic Society. Google Scholar
  9. Castroviejo, Elena. 2006. A degree-based account of wh-exclamatives in Catalan. In Sinn und Bedeutung 11, ed. Estela Puig-Waldmüller, 134–149. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Google Scholar
  10. Chernilovskaya, Anna, Cleo Condoravdi, and Sven Lauer. 2012. On the discourse effects of wh-exclamatives. In West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) 30. Google Scholar
  11. Cobreros, Pablo, Paul Egré, David Ripley, and Robert van Rooij. 2012. Tolerant, classical, strict. Journal of Philosophical Logic 41 (2): 347–385. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Constantinescu, Camelia. 2011. Gradability in the nominal domain. LOT dissertation series 288. Utrecht: LOT. Google Scholar
  13. Cresswell, Max J. 1976. The semantics of degree. In Montague grammar, ed. Barbara Partee, 261–292. New York: Academic Press. Google Scholar
  14. Doetjes, Jenny, Camelia Constantinescu, and Kateřina Součková. 2009. A neo-Kleinian approach to comparatives. In Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 19, eds. Ed Cormany, Satoshi Ito, and David Lutz, 124–141. Google Scholar
  15. Dressler, Wolfgang, and Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi. 1994. Morphopragmatics: diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German, and other languages. Berlin: de Gruyter. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fleischhauer, Jens. 2013. Interaction of telicity and degree gradation of change of state verbs. In Studies in the composition and decomposition of event predicates, eds. Boban Arsenijević, Berit Gehrke, and Rafael Marín, 125–152. Dordrecht: Springer. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gaeta, Livio. 2003. Produttività morfologica verificata su corpora: il suffisso -issimo. In I nuovi media come strumenti per la ricerca linguistica, eds. Franz Rainer and Achim Stein, 43–60. Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang. Google Scholar
  18. Gumiel-Molina, Silvia, Norberto Moreno-Quibén, and Isabel Pérez-Jiménez. 2015. A syntactic approach to the relative/absolute distinction: the case of adjectives in copular sentences in Spanish. In Natural Language and Linguistic Theory. Google Scholar
  19. Gutzmann, Daniel. 2011. Expressive modifiers & mixed expressives. In Empirical issues in syntax and semantics, eds. Olivier Bonami and Patricia Cabredo Hofherr. Vol. 8, 123–141. http://www.cssp.cnrs.fr/eiss8/index_en.html. Google Scholar
  20. Gutzmann, Daniel. 2012. Use-conditional meaning: studies in multi-dimensional semantics. PhD diss., University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt/Main. Google Scholar
  21. Gutzmann, Daniel. 2013. Pragmaticalization and multidimensional semantics. Paper presented at the workshop on systematic semantic change, University of Texas, Austin. Google Scholar
  22. Gutzmann, Daniel, and Elena Castroviejo. 2011. The dimensions of verum. In Empirical issues in syntax and semantics 8, eds. Olivier Bonami and Patricia Cabredo Hofherr, 143–166. http://www.cssp.cnrs.fr/eiss8/index_en.html. Google Scholar
  23. Höhle, Tilman N. 1992. Über Verum-fokus im Deutschen. In Informationsstruktur und Grammatik, ed. Joachim Jacobs, 112–141. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jacobsen, William H. 1964. A grammar of the Washo language. PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley. Google Scholar
  25. Kamp, Hans. 1975. Two theories of adjectives. In Formal semantics of natural language, ed. Edward Keenan, 123–155. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kamp, Hans, and Barbara Partee. 1995. Prototype theory and compositionality. Cognition 57: 129–191. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kennedy, Christopher. 2007. Vagueness and grammar: the semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives. Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (1): 1–45. doi: 10.1007/s10988-006-9008-0. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kennedy, Christopher, and Louise McNally. 2005. Scale structure, degree modification and the semantics of gradable predicates. Language 81 (2): 345–381. doi: 10.1353/lan.2005.0071. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kiparsky, Paul. 1973. Elsewhere in phonology. In A festschrift for Morris Halle, eds. Stephen R. Anderson and Paul Kiparsky, 93–106. New York: Holt, Reinhart, and Winston. Google Scholar
  30. Klein, Ewan. 1980. A semantics for positive and comparative adjectives. Linguistics and Philosophy 4 (1): 1–46. doi: 10.1007/BF00351812. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kratzer, Angelika. 1981. The notional category of modality. In Words, worlds, and contexts: new approaches to word semantics, eds. Hans-Jürgen Eikmeyer and Hannes Rieser, 163–201. Berlin: de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  32. Krifka, Manfred. 1995. The semantics and pragmatics of polarity items. Linguistic Analysis 25 (3–4): 209–257. Google Scholar
  33. Krifka, Manfred. 2009. Approximate interpretations of number words: a case for strategic communication. In Theory and evidence in semantics, eds. Erhard Hinrichs and John Nerbonne, 109–132. Stanford: CSLI Publications. Google Scholar
  34. Lakoff, George. 1973. Hedges: a study in meaning criteria and the logic of fuzzy concepts. Journal of Philosophical Logic 2 (4): 458–508. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lasersohn, Peter. 1999. Pragmatic halos. Language 75 (3): 522–551. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McCready, Eric. 2010. Varieties of conventional implicature. Semantics and Pragmatics 3: 1–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McNabb, Yaron. 2012a. Cross-categorial modification of properties in Hebrew and English. In Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 22, ed. Anca Chereches, 365–382. Ithaca: CLC Publications. Google Scholar
  38. McNabb, Yaron. 2012b. The syntax and semantics of degree modification. PhD diss., University of Chicago, Chicago. Google Scholar
  39. Merlini Barbaresi, Lavinia. 2004. Aggettivi deaggettivali. In La formazione delle parole in italiano, eds. Mario Grossman and Franz Rainer, 444–450. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Google Scholar
  40. Morzycki, Marcin. 2009. Degree modification of gradable nouns: size adjectives and adnominal degree morphemes. Natural Language Semantics 17 (2): 175–203. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Morzycki, Marcin. 2011. Metalinguistic comparison in an alternative semantics for imprecision. Natural Language Semantics 19 (1): 39–86. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Morzycki, Marcin. 2012. The several faces of adnominal degree modification. In West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL) 29, eds. Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman, 187–195. Somerville: Cascadilla Proceedings Project. Google Scholar
  43. Osherson, Daniel, and Edward Smith. 1981. On the adequacy of prototype theory as a theory of concepts. Cognition 11: 237–262. Google Scholar
  44. Potts, Christopher. 2005. The logic of conventional implicature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Google Scholar
  45. Potts, Christopher. 2007. The expressive dimension. Theoretical Linguistics 33: 165–198. Google Scholar
  46. Potts, Christopher, and Florian Schwarz. 2008. Exclamatives and heightened emotion: extracting pragmatic generalizations from large corpora. Ms. University of Massachusetts. Google Scholar
  47. Rainer, Franz. 1983. L’intensificazione di aggettivi mediante -issimo. In Akten des 2. Österreichisch-italienischen Linguistentreffens, eds. Dardano Maurizio, Wolfgang Dressler, and Gudrum Held, 94–102. Tübingen: Narr. Google Scholar
  48. Rainer, Franz. 2003. Studying restrictions on patterns of word-formation by means of the Internet. Rivista Di Linguistica 15 (1): 131–140. Google Scholar
  49. Rett, Jessica. 2008. A degree account of exclamatives. In Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 18, eds. Tova Friedman and Satoshi Ito. Ithaca: CLC Publications. Google Scholar
  50. Rett, Jessica. 2011. Exclamatives, degrees and speech acts. Linguistics and Philosophy 34: 411–442. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rosch, Eleanor. 1975. Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 104 (3): 192–233. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rotstein, Carmen, and Yoad Winter. 2004. Total adjectives vs. partial adjectives: scale structure and higher-order modifiers. Natural Language Semantics 12 (3): 259–288. doi: 10.1023/B:NALS.0000034517.56898.9a. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Sassoon, Galit Weidman. 2005. Typicality: an improved semantic analysis. In Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics (IATL) 21, ed. Yehuda N. Falk, 1–34. Jerusalem: Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics. Google Scholar
  54. Sassoon, Galit Weidman. 2013. Vagueness, gradability, and typicality: the interpretation of adjectives and nouns. Boston: Brill. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sawada, Osamu. 2009. Pragmatic aspects of scalar modifiers. PhD diss., University of Chicago. Google Scholar
  56. Sawada, Osamu, and Thomas Grano. 2011. Scale structure, coercion, and the interpretation of measure phrases in Japanese. Natural Language Semantics 19: 191–226. doi: 10.1007/s11050-011-9070-1. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Schlenker, Philippe. 2003. A plea for monsters. Linguistics and Philosophy 26: 29–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Steriopolo, Olga. 2008. Form and function of expressive morphology: a case study of Russian. PhD diss., The University of British Columbia, Vancouver. Google Scholar
  59. Syrett, Kristen. 2007. Learning about the structure of scales: Adverbial modification and the acquisition of the semantics of gradable adjectives. PhD diss., Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Google Scholar
  60. Tekavcic, Pavao. 1972. Grammatica storica dell’italiano. Il Mulino. Google Scholar
  61. van Rooij, Robert. 2011. Implicit versus explicit comparatives. In Vagueness and language use, eds. Paul Egré and Nathan Klinedinst, 51–72. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. Google Scholar
  62. von Stechow, Arnim. 1984. Comparing semantic theories of comparison. Journal of Semantics 3: 1–77. doi: 10.1093/jos/3.1-2.1. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wierzbicka, Anna. 1991. Cross-cultural pragamtics: the semantics of human interaction. New York: de Gruyter. Google Scholar
  64. Williamson, Timothy. 1999. On the structure of higher-order vagueness. Mind 108 (429): 127–143. doi: 10.1093/mind/108.429.127. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zanuttini, Raffaella, and Paul Portner. 2003. Exclamative clauses: at the syntax-semantics interface. Language 79 (1): 39–81. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations