Not all gradable adjectives are vague – Experimental evidence from adults and children

  • Merle Weicker
  • Petra Schulz

Abstract

This paper investigates whether absolute gradable adjectives such as clean show characteristics of vagueness, as do relative gradable adjectives such as big. We addressed this question by examining adults’ interpretation of the antonyms clean and dirty in a picture- selection task. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 were tested with the same task to see how early the interpretation pattern shown by the adults emerges in the course of acquisition. Our findings indicate that absolute gradable adjectives do not show characteristics of vagueness in either the adults or the children. Absolute gradable adjectives are interpreted as having a minimum or maximum standard of comparison, which is not context-sensitive, and they do not give rise to borderline cases.
Published
2020-09-18
How to Cite
Weicker, M., & Schulz, P. (2020). Not all gradable adjectives are vague – Experimental evidence from adults and children. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 24(2), 406-422. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2020.v24i2.905