Adverbs and Adverbials

Paul J Hopper ph1u+ at ANDREW.CMU.EDU
Sun Dec 13 20:06:55 UTC 1998

This is a follow-up to the discussion on  <"adverbials" with accusative case>.

The "accusative of duration of time" is general in Indo-European (e.g.,
Sanskrit, Latin).

Although the parallels in the construction of time expressions in other
language families are interesting, a more challenging general question
is the whole typology of Adverbials and the word class of Adverb.
Regarding adverbs, Quirk et al. Reference Grammar of the English
Language p. 438 say: "Because of its great heterogeneity, the adverb
class is the most nebulous and puzzling of the traditional word classes.
Indeed it is tempting to say that the adverb is an item that does not
fit the definitions for other word classes."

It is a topic that has been neglected, probably, because adverb(ials)
aren't considered part of the nuclear structure of the clause. I came
across an interesting early statement of this perspective in Sir John
Stoddart's _Universal Grammar_ (London: Griffin and Co, 1848 [!]): He
defines an adverb as "a unit that can be dispensed with without changing
the structure of the sentence." (Stoddart's book, by the way, is a
fascinating precursor to current Cognitive Grammar.)

Can anyone suggest some bibliography on the topic of adverbs and
adverbials generally? I'll share my results.

- Paul Hopper

Excerpts from mail: 12-Dec-98 Re: "adverbials" with accus.. by
Hans-Juergen Sasse at UNI-K
> > > Also, on the topic of adverbials, I know that Hungarian is one example of
> > > a language that actually can assign accusative case to a seeming
> > > adverbial, barring the existence an object NP, for example the following
> > > gloss could occur in Hungarian.
> > >
> > > John worked two hours-ACC
> >
> Albanian and Modern Greek time adverbials behave in the same way. Cf.
Greek dhio
> ores 'for two hours', oli tin imera 'all day long', to ximona 'in the
> tin alli mera 'on the next day', etc. etc.I would be reluctant to
analyze these
> as objects, since they can occur with transitive verbs in addition to their
> overt objects.
> What about German
> Wir warten schon drei Stunden 'We have already been waiting for three hours'?
> Hans-Juergen Sasse

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