Payne, Huddleston, and Pullum on The distribution and category status of adjectives and adverbs

Posted on April 29, 2010 by

Colleague John Payne has a new paper in the journal Word Structure with Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey Pullum on “The distribution and category status of adjectives and adverbs”.  Check out the abstract below the fold, and the full paper here.

The distribution and category status of adjectives and adverbs

John Payne, Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum

Authors’ addresses (John Payne) School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures University of Manchester Oxford Road Manchester M13 9PL England E-mail:
(Rodney Huddleston) School of English, Media Studies and Art History University of Queensland Brisbane 4072 Australia
(Geoffrey K. Pullum) School of Philosophy, Psychology, and Language Sciences University of Edinburgh Dugald Stewart Building 3 Charles Street Edinburgh EH8 9AD Scotland

Citation Information. Word Structure. Volume 3, Page 31-81 DOI 10.3366/E1750124510000486, ISSN 1750-1245, Available Online April 2010 .

It has long been argued that the environments in which adjectives and adverbs occur are mutually exclusive. This claim is based on a superficial observation that adjectives modify nouns, while adverbs modify other categories. In this paper, we argue that there are a substantial number of environments in English where complementarity, thus defined, does not hold. One interesting such environment is the function of modifier of nouns, and in one section of this paper we present a detailed analysis of a rarely observed construction in which adverbs, like adjectives, have this function.

Complementarity between adjectives and adverbs is often used in support of a further claim, periodically espoused by a variety of linguists from Kuryłowicz (1936) to Baker (2003), that adjectives and adverbs are effectively inflectional variants of a single major category. In the final sections of this paper, we argue not only that complementarity as defined does not hold, but that distribution per se is irrelevant to the issue of whether adverbs are inflectionally or derivationally related to adjectives. A review of the arguments points towards adverbs in English in fact standing on the derivational side of the boundary, and forming a distinct (though in some respects atypical) major category.