[Lingtyp] Intensification and causation

tangzhengda tangzhengda at 126.com
Sat Oct 16 06:55:11 UTC 2021

Dear colleagues,

In a certain NW Chinese dialect the adjective phrase of 'Adj.-de-hen' (roughly taken to mean 'very Adj.') can only be used on condition that it take the role of a CAUSE, or a 'causing state', by which a NEGATIVE EFFECT is resulted. The Negative effect, as an 'event' that has never factually happen, can be encoded as another clause, an element of the same clause, or totally covertly implied.  For example,

                             INTS as CAUSE       NEG EFFECT
         这   鸡            瘦-得-很,               他  不    买
        this chicken    thin-de-very,             he   NEG. buy.

        (When buying chickens)         这   鸡            瘦-得-很。  
                                                       this chicken    thin-de-very
                                                       'The chicken is thin (therefore he cannot buy it/it fails to be worth...)'

      (See a chicken roaming by, no intent to buy)     * 这   鸡            瘦-得-很
                                                                                        this chicken    thin-de-very

 My wonder is whether some correlation exists between the intensification of a property (like an AP magnified by the degree words) and the CAUSTION, esp. negative ones (in Barros 2003, positive cause plus a negative effect is one type of the negative caustion where the relata is termed as 'prevention/interference').  Perhaps English 'too...to...' could be such a construction to connect the state/property and an EVENT.  If yes, how is the correlation motivated and typologically attested?

With best wishes,



Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
No.5 Jianguomennei Dajie, Beijing, China; 100732

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