Evaluative adjectives like stupid, smart, silly, and rude have been recognized as a coherent syntactic and semantic class for over forty years (Lees 1960, Bolinger 1961, Vendler 1963, 1968, Quirk et al. 1985). The class has gained recent attention, however, from syntacticians looking to extend analyses of argument alignment in the verbal domain to the adjectival domain (Stowell 1991, Bennis 2000, 2004, Landau 2006) and from semanticists examining the interpretation of 'vague' predicates (Barker 2002). When combined with an infinitival clause, evaluative adjectives yield control interpretations, as in Hoffman was smart to cut a deal. Stowell (1991) presents a coercion analysis of such structures, which holds that one-place, property-denoting evaluative predicates are coerced into a two-place, eventive interpretation in the presence of an infinitival complement. The present analysis argues against the coercion account, demonstrating that evaluative control structures are individual-level property-denoting predicates which lack internal thematic structure. Stowell's structural analysis, which argues that the infinitival in these cases is a syntactic adjunct, is adopted, and new evidence in support of an AP adjunction analysis is presented. The AP-adjoined infinitival structure is contrasted with a VP-adjoined gerund structure in an analysis which accounts for previously unexplained interactions with other adjuncts and internal arguments.
Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
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