A counterfactual analysis of adnominal modifiers


  • Toshiyuki Ogihara University of Washington




adjective, adnominal modifier, intensional adjective, privative adjective, subsective modifier, predicate modification


In this article, I shall argue for a counterfactual analysis of the semantics of some ad-nominal modifiers. This analysis formalizes the intuition that adnominal modifiers are always restrictive in some sense. Technically, the proposal is formalized with an opera-tor that applies to two intensional entities of type <s,et> and returns as the value the same type of semantic entity (type: <s,et>). In terms of how the rule works, it resem-bles Predicate Modification since it requires a special rule. However, it does not inter-sect the two sets in question. Rather, the rule yields a set of entities that are not neces-sarily a subset of the entities specified by the common noun in the actual world. I call this semantic procedure Restrictive Modification (RM). Essential reasoning is given as follows: the property of being x that has the modifier property and if in all closest worlds w in which x had a crucial property that all CN entities have, then x would have the CN property in w. For example, in the case of stone lion, it denotes the prop-erty of being x made of stone such that if x were to possess a crucial property that a re-al lion has (say, the property of being alive with flesh and blood), then x would be a real lion. This reasoning applies to a variety of adjective types. Some problematic ex-amples such as house key and ice water remain, and they are a reserved for a future study.

Author Biography

  • Toshiyuki Ogihara, University of Washington
    Professor of Linguistics




How to Cite

Ogihara, Toshiyuki. 2023. “A Counterfactual Analysis of Adnominal Modifiers”. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 8 (1): 5559. https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v8i1.5559.