Reference : Dynamic, deontic and evaluative adjectives and their clausal complement patterns: A s...
Dissertations and theses : Doctoral thesis
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
http://hdl.handle.net/2268/211216
Dynamic, deontic and evaluative adjectives and their clausal complement patterns: A synchronic-diachronic account
English
Van linden, An mailto [Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - KUL > > > >]
21-Feb-2009
University of Leuven (KU Leuven), ​Leuven, ​​Belgique
Doctor of Language and Literature: Germanic Languages
xiv, 329
Cuyckens, Hubert
Verstraete, Jean-Christophe
Delbecque, Nicole
Davidse, Kristin
McGregor, William
Los, Bettelou
[en] This thesis studies the clausal complementation patterns of adjectives that express non-epistemic modal meanings, from a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. I have chosen to focus on adjectives, because the existing literature on complementation and modality has devoted far more attention to the category of verbs than to that of adjectives. Examples of the constructions studied are given in (1) to (4).

(1) There had followed a nightmare procession along the sewer for what felt like and doubtless was several miles. For the first part of their journey it was necessary to move doubled up, in a position of almost unbearable discomfort. After what seemed at least an hour but was probably ten minutes they reached mercifully, a larger, higher sewer tunnel and could move upright. (CB, ukbooks)
(2) Herbert Daniels, the group's founder, believes that it is essential to overcome the social stigma of Aids, which often means that people with the virus lose their homes, jobs and families, and are effectively condemned to death by society. (CB, bbc)
(3) The years immediately after the Second World War were particularly scarred by the loss of many fine men who had survived the great hazards of conflict only to lose their lives at the very cutting edge of aeronautical research and development. I believe it would be wholly appropriate to record all their names and achievements together for posterity at some honoured place. (CB, ukmags)
(4) It may be known as the Royal Opera House but this was ballet's night. On February 20, 1946, it was the ballet that reopened Covent Garden after the war with a performance of The Sleeping Beauty. So it was right and proper that on Tuesday, 50 years to the day later, the historic reawakening of one of the world's great houses should be marked by the ballet again, and with Sleeping Beauty. (CB, times)

In particular, I argue that the adjectival constructions with extraposed that- and to-clauses express three types of meaning:
(i) situational dynamic necessity (cf. Nuyts 2006: 4), as in (1),
(ii) deontic modality in the sense of Nuyts et al. (To appear), involving potential states of affairs, as in (2) and (3),
(iii) non-modal evaluative meaning, a new type introduced in this study, involving attitudinal assessments of propositional contents, as in (4).
I also show that the distribution of the adjectives across these three conceptual types is lexico-semantically conditioned. In fact, I assume a basic distinction between two semantically coherent classes of adjectives, viz. weak and strong ones, which can be made on intuitive grounds in the sense that necessary and essential in (1) and (2), for example, express a stronger degree of necessity or desirability than appropriate and proper in (3) and (4) (cf. Övergaard 1995: 85; Huddleston and Pullum 2002: 997). I can show that strong adjectives occur in (i) and (ii), as illustrated in (1) and (2), whereas weak adjectives occur in (ii) and (iii), as shown in (3) and (4). These conceptual and lexical distinctions have been integrated into a conceptual map, which forms the backbone of the thesis. Within each of the three conceptual categories in the map, analysis of Present-day English corpus data suggests a number of subtypes, some of which correlate with clear constructional patterns, and qualify as partially filled constructions in the sense of Goldberg (1995).
Besides a description of the synchronic data, this study also comprises a substantial diachronic component, drawing on data from various historical corpora. More precisely, it investigates the diachronic relations between the three conceptual categories in the map. Case studies of non-Germanic strong adjectives such as essential and crucial show that these first developed dynamic meaning from their original non-modal meaning, and later on deontic meaning through subjectification of the dynamic meaning (cf. Traugott 1989). A case study of non-Germanic weak adjectives shows that they first occurred in deontic expressions and later developed non-modal evaluative meaning through bridging contexts. In addition to the diachronic relations between the three categories, this study also focuses on the types of complementation patterns the deontic-evaluative adjectives occur in, across the various historical stages. It traces the development of the that-clauses and to-infinitive constructions, and it also concentrates on the distribution of these two types in the extraposition construction and its forerunner, the subjectless construction. It is shown that the adjectival constructions witness a rise of the to-infinitive at the expense of the subjunctive that-clause in the Middle English period, as has also been observed for verbal matrices by Los (1999, 2005). This change in distribution is explained in the thesis by analogy with the verbal constructions. Unlike with these last types, the to-infinitive with adjectival matrices stabilizes at roughly a 3:1 ratio to the that-clause from Early Modern English onwards. For these later periods, finally, I propose that the clausal variation may be motivated by lexical determination and discourse factors such as information structure.

References:
Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure (Cognitive theory of language and culture). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Huddleston, Rodney and Geoffrey Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Los, Bettelou. 1999. Infinitival complementation in Old and Middle English (LOT Dissertation Series 31). The Hague: Thesus.
Los, Bettelou. 2005. The rise of the to-infinitive. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nuyts, Jan. 2006. Modality: Overview and linguistic issues. In William Frawley (ed.), The expression of modality. Berlin: Mouton. 1–26.
Nuyts, Jan, Pieter Byloo, and Janneke Diepeveen. To appear. On deontic modality, directivity, and mood: The case of Dutch mogen and moeten.
Övergaard, Gerd. 1995. The mandative subjunctive in American and British English in the 20th century (Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia anglistica Upsaliensia 94). Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell.
Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 1989. On the rise of epistemic meanings in English: An example of subjectification in semantic change. Language 65 (1): 31–55.
http://hdl.handle.net/2268/211216
10.13140/2.1.3031.0721

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