City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Aug 4 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 22 views

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There are two main subclasses of adjectives: property adjectives (xìngzhì xíngróngcí) and stative adjectives (zhuàngtài xíngróngcí).

Property adjectives are mostly monosyllabic, but some are disyllabic. They describe attributes of entities, and the attributes they ascribe to entities are inherent, objective, and relatively permanent regardless of time. They are homogeneous and characteristically gradable. Their gradability is manifested through comparison or through modification by intensifiers like ‘zuì’ (most) or ‘hěn’ (very), which denote different degrees of the quality expressed by an adjective. Examples of property adjectives are: ‘hóng/bái’ (red/white), ‘hǎo/huai’ (good, bad), ‘lěng/rè’ (cold, hot), ‘qīngchu’ (clear), ‘zhěnqí’ (neat), ‘gānjìng’ (clean), etc.

The second subcategory of adjectives is stative adjectives; they are disyllabic or multi-syllabic, as they themselves contain an adjective or a noun modifier or take a complement of degree. For instance, ‘xuěbái/qīhēi’ (snow-white; pitchdark), ‘Huǒrè/bīngliáng’ (burning hot, fervent; ice-cold), ‘hóngtōngtōng’ (brightred, glowing), ‘liàngjīngjīng’ (glittering, sparkling), ‘màomì’ (dense, thick (of vegetation)), ‘chénjiù’ (outmoded, obsolete), ‘rèqíng’ (enthusiastic, passionate), ‘fènnù’ (indignant; angry), etc.

Compared with the property adjective, the stative adjective denotes a high degree of the intensity of the quality named by a property adjective. Compare, for instance, these two sentences: ‘Rìběn de wùjià guì’ (Commodity prices in Japan are high) and ‘Rìběn de wùjià ángguì’ (Commodity prices in Japan are exhorbitant). The property adjective ‘guì’ denotes the attribute of the abstract thing ‘wùjià’ (commodity price), but the stative adjective ‘ángguì’ (exorbitant) does not only denote the attribute of ‘wùjià’, but also signals a high degree of the quality of being expensive.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Aug 4 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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