Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1871-1340
  • E-ISSN: 1871-1375
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


Previous studies have identified that conceptual categories corresponding to nouns exhibit semantic domain effects: (1) classification into biological ones reflects a non-additive consideration of their defining dimensions whereas classification into artefactual and, presumably, social nouns is based on an additive one (2) nominal biological concepts are less graded than artifacts. Nevertheless, much uncertainty exists about the structure of conceptual categories corresponding to multidimensional adjectives. We propose that the effects observed for concepts corresponding to nouns are connected to a property we term and ask how it is manifested in multidimensional concepts corresponding to adjectives. We then hypothesize that (a) ratings of dimension-counting structures can be used as a diagnostic for these properties (b) the dimensions of multidimensional concepts corresponding to adjectives are inherently discrete. We report an acceptability rating experiment involving 42 adult Hebrew speakers revealing that with nouns, dimension-counting constructions with artefactual and social predicates are rated higher than ones with biological predicates, hence confirming (a). With adjectives, ratings for dimension-counting constructions remained high across the domain manipulation, hence confirming (b). We argue that the interaction between discrete dimension accessibility and lexical category indicates that lexical distinctions interact with conceptual ones.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Arad, M.
    (2005) Roots and Patterns: Hebrew Morpho-syntax. Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Science & Business Media.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Baker, M. C.
    (2003) Lexical categories: Verbs, nouns and adjectives. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511615047
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615047 [Google Scholar]
  3. Baker, M. , & Croft, W.
    (2017) Lexical categories: legacy, lacuna, and opportunity for functionalists and formalists. Annual Review of Linguistics, 3, 179–197.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Barker, C.
    (2002) The dynamics of vagueness. Linguistics and Philosophy, 25(1), 1–36.10.1023/A:1014346114955
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1014346114955 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bartsch, R.
    (1986) The construction of properties under perspectives. Journal of Semantics, 5(4), 293–320.10.1093/jos/5.4.293
    https://doi.org/10.1093/jos/5.4.293 [Google Scholar]
  6. Barwise, J. & Cooper, R.
    (1981) Generalized Quantifiers and Natural Language. Linguistics and Philosophy, 4, 159–219.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Bhat, D. S.
    (1994) The Adjectival Category: Criteria for Differentiation and Identification. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing.10.1075/slcs.24
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.24 [Google Scholar]
  8. Bolinger, D.
    (1967) Adjectives in English: attribution and predication. Lingua, 18, 1–34.10.1016/0024‑3841(67)90018‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(67)90018-6 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bollinger, D.
    (1980) Language, the Loaded Weapon: The Use and Abuse of Language Today. London and New York: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Booth, A. E. , & Waxman, S. R.
    (2009) A horse of a different color: Specifying with precision infants’ mappings of novel nouns and adjectives. Child development, 80(1), 15–22.10.1111/j.1467‑8624.2008.01242.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2008.01242.x [Google Scholar]
  11. Borer, H.
    (2003) Exo-skeletal vs. endo-skeletal explanations: Syntactic projections and the lexicon. The Nature of Explanation in Linguistic Theory, 31–67.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Carey, S.
    (2009) The origin of concepts. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367638.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195367638.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  13. Chomsky, N.
    (1981) Lectures on Government and Binding. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Foris publication.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. (1970) Remarks on nominalization. In R. Jacobs & P. S. Rosenbaum (Eds.), Readings in English Transformational Grammar (pp.184–221). Waltham, MA: Ginn and Company.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Constantinescu, C.
    (2011) Gradability in the Nominal Domain. Utrecht, Netherlands: LOT.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Croft, W.
    (2001) Radical Construction Grammar: Syntactic Theory in Typological Perspective. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  17. Davis, M.
    (2008) The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA): 400+ Million Words, 1990-Present.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Dixon, R. M.
    (1982) Where have all the Adjectives Gone?: and other Essays in Semantics and Syntax. Belin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110822939
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110822939 [Google Scholar]
  19. Estes, Z.
    (2003) Domain differences in the structure of artifactual and natural categories. Memory & Cognition, 31(2), 199–214.10.3758/BF03194379
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03194379 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2004) Confidence and gradedness in semantic categorization: Definitely somewhat artifactual, maybe absolutely natural. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 11(6), 1041–1047.10.3758/BF03196734
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196734 [Google Scholar]
  21. Estes, Z. , & Glucksberg, S.
    (2000) Interactive property attribution in concept combination. Memory & Cognition, 28(1), 28–34.10.3758/BF03211572
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03211572 [Google Scholar]
  22. Fodor, J. A.
    (1975) The Language of Thought. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Finegan, E.
    (2006) Language: its structure and use, 5th edition. Boston: Thomson Wadsworth.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Fox, D. , & Hackl, M.
    (2006) The universal density of measurement. Linguistics and Philosophy, 29(5), 537–586.10.1007/s10988‑006‑9004‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-006-9004-4 [Google Scholar]
  25. Gärdenfors, P.
    (2004) Conceptual Spaces: The Geometry of Thought. Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books. First published 2000.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Gärdenfors, P. , & Williams, M. A.
    (2001) Reasoning about categories in conceptual spaces. Proceedings of the Fourteenth International Joint Conference of Artificial Intelligence, 385–392.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Givón, T.
    (1979) On Understanding Grammar. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hackl, M.
    (2001) Comparative quantifiers and plural predication. Proceedings of WCCFL XX, 234–247.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Hall, D. G. , & Moore, C. E.
    (1997) Red bluebirds and black greenflies: Preschoolers’ understanding of the semantics of adjectives and count nouns. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 67(2), 236–267.10.1006/jecp.1997.2404
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jecp.1997.2404 [Google Scholar]
  30. Halle, M. & Marantz, A.
    (1993) Distributed Morphology and the Pieces of Inflection. In K. Hale and S. J. Keyser (Eds.), The View from Building20 (pp.111–176). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Hampton, J. A.
    (1979) Polymorphous concepts in semantic memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 18(4), 441–461.10.1016/S0022‑5371(79)90246‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-5371(79)90246-9 [Google Scholar]
  32. Hampton, J. A.
    (1989) 5. Concepts and Correct Thinking. Mind & Language, 4(1–2), 35–42.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Hampton, J. A.
    (1997) Psychological representation of concepts. In M. A. Conway (ED.) Cognitive Models of Memory (pp.81–110). Hove: Psychology Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Hampton, J. A. , Storms, G. , Simmons, C. L. , & Heussen, D.
    (2009) Feature integration in natural language concepts. Memory & Cognition, 37(8), 1150–1163.10.3758/MC.37.8.1150
    https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.37.8.1150 [Google Scholar]
  35. Heim, I.
    (2000) Degree Operators and Scope. Proceedings of SALT10. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Hoeksema, J.
    1995 The semantics of exception phrases. InJ. van Eijck and J. van der Does (eds.) Quantifiers, Logic, and Language (pp.145–177). CSLI
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Hofmeister, P. & Norcliffe, E.
    (2013) Does resumption facilitate sentence comprehension ?In P. Hofmeister & E. Norcliffe (Eds.), The Core and the Periphery: Data-driven Perspectives on Syntax Inspired by Ivan A. Sag (pp.1–25). Stanford, CA : CSLI Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Jackendoff, R.
    (1977) X-bar Syntax: A Study of Phrase Structure. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Jespersen, O.
    (1924) The philosophy of language. London: G. Allen.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Kalish, C. W.
    (1995) Essentialism and graded membership in animal and artifact categories. Memory & Cognition, 23(3), 335–353.10.3758/BF03197235
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03197235 [Google Scholar]
  41. Kamp, J. A. W.
    (1975) Two theories about adjectives. In E. Keenan (Ed.), Formal semantics of natural language (pp.123–55). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511897696.011
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511897696.011 [Google Scholar]
  42. Kennedy, C.
    (1999) Projecting the Adjective: The Syntax and Semantics of Gradability and Comparison. Abingdon-on-Thames, England: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. (2007) Vagueness and grammar: The semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives. Linguistics and Philosophy, 30(1), 1–45.10.1007/s10988‑006‑9008‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-006-9008-0 [Google Scholar]
  44. Kennedy, C. , & McNally, L.
    (2005) Scale structure, degree modification, and the semantics of gradable predicates. Language, 345–381.10.1353/lan.2005.0071
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2005.0071 [Google Scholar]
  45. Klein, E.
    (1980) A semantics for positive and comparative adjectives. Linguistics and Philosophy, 4(1), 1–45.10.1007/BF00351812
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00351812 [Google Scholar]
  46. Landau, I.
    (2009) Saturation and reification in adjectival diathesis. Journal of Linguistics, 45(2), 315–361.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Landman, F.
    (1989) Groups, II. Linguistics and Philosophy, 12(6), 723–744.10.1007/BF00632603
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00632603 [Google Scholar]
  48. Malt, B. C.
    (1990) Features and beliefs in the mental representation of categories. Journal of Memory and Language, 29(3), 289–315.10.1016/0749‑596X(90)90002‑H
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-596X(90)90002-H [Google Scholar]
  49. Marantz, A.
    (1997) No escape from syntax: Don’t try morphological analysis in the privacy of your own lexicon. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics, 4(2), 14.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. McCloskey, M. E. , & Glucksberg, S.
    (1978) Natural categories: Well defined or fuzzy sets?. Memory & Cognition, 6(4), 462–472.10.3758/BF03197480
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03197480 [Google Scholar]
  51. McNally, L. , and Stojanovic, I.
    (2015) Aesthetic adjectives. In J. Young (Ed.), The Semantics of Aesthetic Judgment, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Medin, D. L.
    (1989) Concepts and conceptual structure. American Psychologist, 44(12), 1469.10.1037/0003‑066X.44.12.1469
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.44.12.1469 [Google Scholar]
  53. Medin, D. L. , & Schaffer, M. M.
    (1978) Context theory of classification learning. Psychological Review, 85(3), 207.10.1037/0033‑295X.85.3.207
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.85.3.207 [Google Scholar]
  54. Medin, D. L. , & Smith, E. E.
    (1984) Concepts and concept formation. Annual Review of Psychology, 35(1), 113–138.10.1146/annurev.ps.35.020184.000553
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ps.35.020184.000553 [Google Scholar]
  55. Moltmann, F.
    (1995) Exception sentences and polyadic quantification. Linguistics and Philosophy, 18(3), 223–280.10.1007/BF00985445
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00985445 [Google Scholar]
  56. Morzycki, M.
    (2011) Metalinguistic comparison in an alternative semantics for imprecision. Natural Language Semantics, 19(1), 39–86.10.1007/s11050‑010‑9063‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-010-9063-5 [Google Scholar]
  57. (2012) The several faces of adnominal degree modification. InProceedings of Proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics29, 187–195.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Murphy, G.
    (2002) The Big Book of Concepts. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Murphy, G. L. , & Medin, D. L.
    (1985) The role of theories in conceptual coherence. Psychological Review, 92(3), 289.10.1037/0033‑295X.92.3.289
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.92.3.289 [Google Scholar]
  60. Nosofsky, R. M.
    (1988) Exemplar-based accounts of relations between classification, recognition, and typicality. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 14(4), 700.
    [Google Scholar]
  61. O’Grady, W. , Dobrovolsky, M. , & Aronoff, M.
    (1997) Contemporary Linguistics. New York: St.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Pinker, S.
    (1994) The Language Instinct: The New Science of Language and Mind. London, England: Allen Lane.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Pustet, R.
    (2003) Copulas: Universals in the Categorization of the Lexicon. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199258505.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  64. Rett, J.
    (2013) Similatives and the degree arguments of verbs. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory (4), 1101–1137.10.1007/s11049‑013‑9201‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-013-9201-0 [Google Scholar]
  65. Rips, L. J.
    (1989) Similarity, typicality, and categorization. In S. Vosniadou & A. Ortony (Eds.), Similarity and Analogical Reasoning (pp.21–59). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511529863.004
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511529863.004 [Google Scholar]
  66. Rohde, D.
    (2003) Linger: a flexible platform for language processing experiments, version 2.94. Online: tedlab.mit.edu/~dr/Linger.
    [Google Scholar]
  67. Rosch, E.
    (1978) Principles of categorization. In E. Rosch & B. Lloyd (Eds.), Cognition and Categorization (pp.27–48). Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Rosch, E. H.
    (1973) Natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 4(3), 328–350.10.1016/0010‑0285(73)90017‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(73)90017-0 [Google Scholar]
  69. Rosch, E. , & Mervis, C. B.
    (1975) Family resemblances: Studies in the internal structure of categories. Cognitive Psychology, 7(4), 573–605.10.1016/0010‑0285(75)90024‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(75)90024-9 [Google Scholar]
  70. Rosch, E. , Mervis, C. B. , Gray, W. D. , Johnson, D. M. , & Boyes-Braem, P.
    (1976) Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology, 8(3), 382–439.10.1016/0010‑0285(76)90013‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(76)90013-X [Google Scholar]
  71. Rotstein, C. , & Winter, Y.
    (2004) Total adjectives vs. partial adjectives: Scale structure and higher-order modifiers. Natural Language Semantics, 12(3), 259–288.10.1023/B:NALS.0000034517.56898.9a
    https://doi.org/10.1023/B:NALS.0000034517.56898.9a [Google Scholar]
  72. Sassoon, G. W.
    (2012) A typology of multidimensional adjectives. Journal of Semantics, 30(3), 335–380.
    [Google Scholar]
  73. Sassoon, G. W.
    (2016) Multidimensionality in the grammar of gradability. Unpublished ms., Bar Ilan University.
    [Google Scholar]
  74. Sassoon, G. , & Fadlon, J.
    (2017) The role of dimensions in classification under predicates predicts their status in degree constructions. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 2(1), 42.
    [Google Scholar]
  75. Schwarzschild, R.
    (2002) The grammar of measurement. Proceedings of SALT12, 225–245.10.3765/salt.v12i0.2870
    https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v12i0.2870 [Google Scholar]
  76. (2006) The role of dimensions in the syntax of noun phrases. Syntax, 9(1), 67–110.10.1111/j.1467‑9612.2006.00083.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9612.2006.00083.x [Google Scholar]
  77. Smith, E. E. , & Medin, D. L.
    (1981) Categories and Concepts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.10.4159/harvard.9780674866270
    https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674866270 [Google Scholar]
  78. Solt, S.
    (2009) The semantics of adjectives of quantity (Doctoral dissertation, The City University of New York).
    [Google Scholar]
  79. (in progress), Multidimensionality, subjectivity and scales: experimental evidence. To appear in Castroviejo, E. , Sassoon, G. W. , and McNally, L. Eds. The Semantics of Gradability, Vagueness, and Scale Structure –Experimental Perspectives. Springer.
    [Google Scholar]
  80. Sperber, D. , & Wilson, D.
    (1997) Remarks on relevance theory and the social sciences. Multilingua-Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication, 16(2–3), 145–152.10.1515/mult.1997.16.2‑3.145
    https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.1997.16.2-3.145 [Google Scholar]
  81. Stassen, L.
    (1997) Intransitive Predication. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  82. Stowell, T.
    (1991) The alignment of arguments in adjective phrases. Syntax and Semantics, 25, 105–135.
    [Google Scholar]
  83. Stowell, T. A.
    (1981) Origins of phrase structure (Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
    [Google Scholar]
  84. Stechow, A. V.
    (1984) Comparing semantic theories of comparison. Journal of Semantics, 3(1–2), 1–77.
    [Google Scholar]
  85. Tversky, A.
    (1977) Features of similarity. Psychological Review, 84(4), 327.10.1037/0033‑295X.84.4.327
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.84.4.327 [Google Scholar]
  86. Verheyen, S., Heussen, D., & Storms, G.
    (2011) On domain dfferences in categorization and context variety. Memory & Cognition, 39 (7), 1290–1300.
    [Google Scholar]
  87. Von Fintel, K.
    (1994) Restrictions on quantifier domains (Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts).
    [Google Scholar]
  88. Wattenmaker, W. D.
    (1995) Knowledge structures and linear separability: Integrating information in object and social categorization. Cognitive Psychology, 28(3), 274–328.10.1006/cogp.1995.1007
    https://doi.org/10.1006/cogp.1995.1007 [Google Scholar]
  89. Waxman, S. R., & Markow, D. B.
    (1998) Object properties and Object kind: Twenty-one-month-old infants’ extension of novel adjectives. Child Development, 69(5), 1313–1329.
    [Google Scholar]
  90. Wellwood, A.
    (2014) Measuring predicates (Doctoral dissertation).
    [Google Scholar]
  91. (2015) On the semantics of comparison across categories. Linguistics and Philosophy, 38(1), 67–101.10.1007/s10988‑015‑9165‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-015-9165-0 [Google Scholar]
  92. Wetzer, H.
    (1996) The Typology of Adjectival Predication (Vol.17). Walter de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  93. Wierzbicka, A.
    (1980) Lingua Mentalis: The Semantics of Natural Language. Sydney: Academic Press
    [Google Scholar]
  94. (1986) What’s in a noun?(or: How do nouns differ in meaning from adjectives?). Studies in Language, 10(2), 353–389.10.1075/sl.10.2.05wie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sl.10.2.05wie [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): adjectives; conceptual categories; lexical category; nouns
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error