Deriving the Two Readings of English Determiner+Adjective

  • Lelia Glass


I distinguish two readings of the English Determiner+Adjective construction, one which refers to individuals who have the property ascribed by the adjective (the creative are intrinsically motivated), and one which refers to the property itself as an abstract mass (the familiar is dangerously wonderful). I present a wealth of new data from Web searches showing that the two readings are grammatically distinct, and both quite productive. To derive these two readings, I take inspiration from the neo-Davidsonian analysis of adjectives from Parsons (1990) and Landman (2000), suggesting that adjectives contain an argument for both an individual and a state – an eventuality with the mereological structure of a mass noun. For the individuated reading, I propose a typeshifter that existentially closes the state argument, leaving a predicate of individuals; for the mass reading, I propose a second type-shifter that existentially closes the individual argument, leaving a predicate of states. When adjectives are analyzed with two hooks – an individual argument and a state argument – both readings of Determiner+Adjective can be derived.
How to Cite
Glass, L. (1). Deriving the Two Readings of English Determiner+Adjective. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 18, 164-181. Retrieved from