adjectives and word classes
hannu.tommola at UTA.FI
Wed Apr 5 10:54:33 UTC 2006
Martin writes: "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."
Most descriptions of Finnish distinct between nouns and adjectives,
although they belong to identical morhological patterns; the part-of-speech
distinction cannot be made on morphological grounds. Genuine colour terms
in Finnish are of two types, with or without a "typically adjective" suffix
-ne/-se (in some cases both occur):
- musta 'black'; vihreä 'green'; ruskea 'brown'; harmaa 'grey'
- valkea OR valko-i-nen 'white'
- puna-i-nen 'red'; sini-nen 'blue'; kelta-i-nen 'yellow';
Later loan-words are of the first type (cf. Italian and German _lila_
etc.), though they are regularly inflected:
oranssi 'orange'; beige, beessi 'beige'; turkoosi 'turquoise'; pinkki,
roosa 'pink'; li(i)la 'violet'
In Russian, colour terms are inflected as adjectives; the newer borrowings
also tend to move over to this pattern (at least, in colloquial speech),
even if codified as non-inflected:
bordo > bordo-vyj 'bordeaux'; bezh > bezhevyj 'beige'
lil-o-vyj 'violet'; roz-o-vyj 'pink', turkoz-nyj 'turqoise', lazor-e-vyj,
lazur-nyj 'azure, sky-blue'; oranzhe-vyj 'orange'
At 14:00 4.4.2006, Martin Haspelmath 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.
>nigel vincent wrote:
>>Italian has some colour adjectives which are in origin nouns and hence do
>>not agree, e.g./ rosa / 'pink',/ viola/ 'purple',/ crema/ 'cream',/
>>bordeaux/, this last usually translated in English as 'burgundy' even
>>though oenophiles will know they refer to entirely different beverages!
>Professor of Russian Language, School of Modern Languages and Translation
>FIN-33014 University of Tampere, Finland
>Tel.: +358-(0)3-3551 6102, Fax:(0)3-3551 7200
More information about the Lingtyp