States versus tropes. Comments on Curt Anderson and Marcin Morzycki: ‘Degrees as kinds’


In this commentary on Anderson and Morzycki’s article ‘Degrees as kinds’, I raise some issues about the interchangeability of concrete (or Davidsonian) states (in the sense of Maienborn 2007) and tropes (particularized properties, according to Moltmann 2009), as well as the category of concrete states as such. I will also raise some issues for Anderson and Morzycki’s use of kinds of concrete states for constructing degrees and their analysis of the comparative.

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  1. 1.

    There are a number of verbs that allow for both an eventive and an abstract-state interpretation and thus pattern in both ways, for example surround, obstruct or threaten (Rothmayr 2009). Moreover, adverbials may become acceptable with abstract state verbs on a derivative interpretation (Maienborn 2007).

  2. 2.

    Note that the trope-based account of positive and comparative adjectives in Moltmann (2009) does not deny reference to degrees as such. Rather the claim is that degrees are not involved in the semantics of constructions not involving explicit reference to them.

  3. 3.

    Not all adjective nominalizations simply pick up the trope arguments of the adjective. Length and width do; but tallness and heaviness describe more complex tropes quasi-relational tropes which instantiate the property of being greater than the contextual standard in a height trope or weight trope (Moltmann 2009).


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Correspondence to Friederike Moltmann.

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Moltmann, F. States versus tropes. Comments on Curt Anderson and Marcin Morzycki: ‘Degrees as kinds’. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 33, 829–841 (2015).

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  • State
  • Trope
  • Degree
  • Kind
  • Davidsonian state
  • Kimian state