Thematic Group 4 – Adjectival Inflection

Leaders: Tor A. Åfarli & Øystein A. Vangsnes

Members: Andrew Weir, Kristin Melum Eide, Terje Lohndal, Kristin Klubbo Brodahl, Björn Lundquist, Brita Ramsevik Riksem, Inghild Flaate Høyem.

Description: There are a number of major unresolved issues concerning the status and role of adjectives in languages and in linguistic theory. Chief among these are the categorial (word class) identity of adjectives, their varying inflectional possibilities, and their flexibility regarding the syntactic roles they can have. Given this states-of-affairs, one should think that adjectives would be at the focus of attention in linguistic theorizing, but the surprising fact is that adjectives are grossly understudied as compared to e.g. verbs and nouns. Thus:

“Adjectives and adverbs are highly complex and significantly less studied than other major lexical categories such as nouns and verbs.” (McNally, p. 1)

“Compared to the lexical categories of nouns and verbs, adjectives have received little attention in the linguistic literature.” And further: “…the syntax of adjectives still poses considerable challenges to linguistic analysis.” (Hofherr, p. 1, 20)

This AcqVA group wants to contribute to filling this lacuna concerning our understanding of the morphosyntactic properties of adjectives and their variation and acquisition cross-linguistically. Also, we hope to be able to contribute to the understanding of attrition, since adjectival inflection seems to be particularly vulnerable as compared to the inflection of verbs and nouns. Moreover, we believe that a close investigation of adjectives will illuminate a number of interesting theoretical issues of a more general character, specifically concerning the nature of word class categorization, the nature of inflectional properties and agreement, and the nature of the lexicon – syntax interface and the overall organization of grammar.

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