A proposito delle restrizioni sulla conversione di participi in aggettivi


Christoph Schwarze



This paper is about the effects of category change on lexical meaning. Conversion from the past and passive participles of Italian unaccusative and transitive verbs to adjectives was chosen as a field of observation. In a first step, a sample of 300 participles is examined with respect to the question of whether they have adjectival counterparts or not. Six tests were used to ascertain the existence of such counterparts; they were derived from the grammar of adnominal adjective phrases, graduation, non-canonical copula constructions, predicative complements of the direct object, negative prefixation, and suffixation of adjective stems. Unsurprisingly, the existence of adjectival counterparts was found to be pervasive, which motivates an analysis in terms of conversion. In a second step, rules and representations that include a semantic layer are proposed to account for that process. A puzzle arose in the course of this analysis: typical adjectives do not occur with agentive adjuncts; however, several items that the tests clearly showed to be adjectives occurred with such adjuncts. It was concluded that the converts, though they do not denote events, may contain a residual meaning component, inherited from their verbal bases, which licenses the agentive adjunct.


Keywords: Morphology • lexical semantics • conversion • participles • adjectives • Italian

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