Adjective Classes and Syntactic Ordering Restrictions

Katy McKinney-Bock


I argue there are four classes of adjectives relevant to syntactic ordering: predicative/intersective, predicative/non-intersective, non-predicative, classifying (Svenonius 2008, Alexiadou et al 2007), and previous proposals have not identified the relevant semantic dimensions. Among the properties of gradability, mass/count, and intersectivity, only intersectivity is syntactically relevant. The four classes of adjectives are motivated by the distribution of ordered/non-ordered adjectives, scope effects with certain adjective-pairs, PP-modification, N-dropping and comparatives (Bouchard 2002, Higginbotham 1985, Kennedy 1999). DP structure involves 1) merging the classifying adjective with pronounced N, 2) merging intersective adjectives with N, 3) merging non-intersective adjectives with a silent copy of N.

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