adjectives and word classes
kmatsum at TOOYOO.L.U-TOKYO.AC.JP
Tue Apr 4 13:17:14 UTC 2006
There seem to be four morphosyntactic classes in Japanese color terms:
bare form attributive adverbial
I) siro siro-i siro-ku 'white'
II) midori midori-no midori-ni 'green'
hai+iro hai+iro-no hai+iro-ni 'gray'
III) ki+iro ki+iro-i ki+iro-ku 'yellow'
IV) mas+siro mas+siro-na mas+siro-ni 'snow-white'
I) At least three more words belong to this class: kuro-i 'black', aka-i 'red',
ao-i 'blue'. They are all morphemically simple in their bare form.
II) Most morphemically complex color terms ending in +iro 'color' belong to
III) This is a hybrid class. Besides ki+iro, at least one word belongs to
this class: cha-iro 'brown' (literally: tea-color) [Though Japanese tea
is typically greenish yellow, you know Chinese oolong tea is brown :-)]
IV) Prefixed color terms derived form class I words belong to this class:
mak+kuro 'coal-black', mak+ka 'deep red', mas+sao 'deep blue'
Though some speakers may reject the forms "ki+iro-i", etc. as "unacceptable",
i-adjectival forms are amply attested for both "ki+iro" and "cha+iro" in
my 24 mil. word corpus of literary texts. Someone may want to check whether
this is also true in other genres too.
University of Tokyo
Martin Haspelmath <haspelmath at EVA.MPG.DE> wrote:
>The same is true in German, though to a lesser extent: The colour
>adjectives /rosa/ 'pink' and /lila/ 'purple/violet' do not inflect, at
>least in the standard language (colloquially, they tend to exhibit
>ordinary adjectival inflection, following an additional consonant /-n-/:
>These cases illustrate a larger point: It is very difficult or even
>impossible to make a principled distinction between "parts of speech"
>(the subject of David Gil's query) and "inflection classes". Most
>descriptions of German would not say that /rosa/ and /lila/ belong to a
>different part of speech than /schwarz/ 'black' and /rot/ 'red';
>instead, they would say that they belong to a special inflection class
>of adjectives. But according to Dixon 2004 (the paper in the volume
>"Adjective classes"), any morphosyntactic distinction can be regarded as
>sufficient to set up a separate part of speech. I'm sure there are
>languages that are described as having a verb/adjective distinction, but
>where the only difference is that verbs inflect but adjectives don't.
>So it isn't clear to me that David's query is different from the
>question whether there are further languages where different colour
>words have different morphosyntactic properties.
>Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at eva.mpg.de)
>Max-Planck-Institut fuer evolutionaere Anthropologie, Deutscher Platz 6
>Tel. (MPI) +49-341-3550 307, (priv.) +49-341-980 1616
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