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On the development and use of appearance/attribute adverbs in English

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Abstract:

It is commonly claimed that in English adjectives denoting colour and other physical properties, referred to here as ‘appearance/attribute’ adjectives, do not give rise to adverbs. This alleged constraint has been related to the fact that the adjectives in question are stative. In this paper I present data which show that appearance/attribute adjectives do give rise to adverbs. To be sure, such ‘appearance/attribute adverbs’ are infrequent and ‘literary’, but they began to be used to some extent in the 19th century, and their frequency has increased considerably during the last two centuries. In fact, in contexts where both adjectives and adverbs are allowed, i.e. in collocation with verbs that do not subcategorize for an adjective or adverb, adverbs have become more frequent than adjectives. This paper discusses what brought about this change, arguing that the crucial mechanism is analogy, and that conditioning factors are the argument structure of the relevant adverbs, the dynamicity of the collocating verb, positional distribution, creativity, and the existence of the same adverb forms with metaphorical meanings. I also argue that the development of appearance/attribute adverbs must be seen in relation to the so called ‘adverbialization process’ which has been sweeping the English language for at least a millennium.

Keywords: English; adjectives; adverbial derivation; adverbialization; adverbs; ly suffix; morphological change; stativity

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.24.2.05kil

Publication date: 2007-12-01

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