Adjectives

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Hope of Glory, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. Hope of Glory

    Hope of Glory
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    In English or Greek, an adjective's meaning cannot extend beyond its noun's semantic range.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. TC

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    How about an example of what you mean?
     
  3. Jerome

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    Isn't the whole point of an adjective to add something to the noun it modifies?
    Most adjectives have an entirely different semantic range than their nouns; that is what makes them useful.
    The phrase "a tall giant" is simply redundant.
    Using semantically similar adjectives and nouns together can, however, be used for exaggerative effect: "a girly girl".
     
  4. Hope of Glory

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    I'm not talking about the semantic range of the noun that it modifies, but the noun from which it originates.

    For example, "That blue car is bluer than the other blue car" would not indicate that the car is red. "The quick brown fox..." would not be referring to a slow silver fox.

    But, "the blue car is faster than the red car" would tell you which car is faster, but using an adjective to describe it, and if the cars were green and yellow, it would make no sense.
     
  5. Scarlett O.

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    What about when an adjective is it's own noun? Or if the noun is understood?

    "The guilty are often more despondent than the innocent."

    There's a name for adjectives like this that can act as the subject of a sentence or the object of a prepositional phrase, but I can't remember it.
     
  6. rsr

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    Adjectival nouns. In such cases they have the form of an adjective (and can be used as such in other contexts) but function as nouns within the context of the phrase or clause.
     
  7. rsr

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    Not sure I follow. I don't see that limiting the aspect of "blue" leads where you want to go.
     
  8. Scarlett O.

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    Thanks. :thumbs:
     
  9. Hope of Glory

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    In such cases, the noun is implied, but not present. "Innocent people"; "guilty people".

    As far as "blue" goes, I was being intentionally vague, as I'm trying to get thoughts without too much input on my part. There may also be a rule of which I'm unaware that permits and adjective to exceed the bounds of the semantic range of the noun.
     
  10. Jerome

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    How about home and homely?
    Homely has the idea of "unattractiveness" which is absent from the noun from which it is derived.
     
  11. Hope of Glory

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    c.1300, "of or belonging to home or household, domestic," from M.E. hom "home." Sense of "plain, unadorned, simple" is c.1380, and extension to "having a plain appearance" took place before 1400, but now survives chiefly in U.S., esp. in New England, where it is the usual term for "physically unattractive;" ugly being typically "ill-tempered."
     
  12. Hope of Glory

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    So, the adjective "homely" does not exceed the semantic bounds of the noun from which it is derived, but people in a localized area (that is probably spreading) have changed the meaning of the adjective.

    Others?
     
  13. Jerome

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    So the adjective homely has come to mean something different than the noun home.
    Is not that what is meant by "exceeding the semantic bounds of the noun."

    Another:
    lovely
     
  14. Hope of Glory

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    Properly, no. Idiomatically, yes. However, the dictionary points out that it is a localized idiomatic usage to mean "ugly".


    lovely
    O.E. luflic "affectionate, loveable," the modern sense of "lovable on account of beauty, attractive" is from c.1300, "applied indiscriminately to all pleasing material objects, from a piece of plum-cake to a Gothic cathedral" [Marsh].
     
  15. Jerome

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    No, what the etymological dictionary says is that homely derives from home; at first it meant simply "of home", later its meaning extended to "plain appearance." This meaning remains in use in the United States. In New England, homely is the common word for such physical unattractiveness, as there the word ugly is used to mean "ill tempered."

    Elsewhere in the United States, ugly and homely are both used for unattractiveness.


    Plenty of adjectives have gone far afield from their corresponding noun's meaning.
    Homely can mean unattractive, home does not have that sense.
    Lovely can mean beautiful, love does not have that sense.
    Shapely, gritty, steamy, crafty, rusty, saucy, crusty are other adjectives that seem to have acquired more meaning than the nouns from which they derive.


    Please explain what is meant by "exceeding the semantic bounds of the noun."
     
  16. Hope of Glory

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    So, would it be safe to say that when used properly (as originally used), adjectives don't exceed the semantic bounds of the noun, but when misused (and when that misuse spreads), then the adjectives have changed meaning completely?

    If so, how do we determine the meaning of the adjective?

    (This brings to mind other discussions about words that were not vulgar, but have developed into something vulgar, often within the past 30 or 40 years, even when the word has been around for hundreds of years.)

    For example, when used as an adjective, "blue" could not describe a red car. "Lovely", could not be a negative, except for tonal inflection or contextual usage that would make it mean the opposite of what is being said. For example, "That mess is lovely." Would mean the opposite, but that is a "lovely" dress would be positive. ("Love" has more than one meaning in English, btw, and saying that something is "lovely" does not have a meaning in "love" the emotion.)

    "Gritty", which has two meanings, both of which derive from the word "grit", which also has multiple meanings, does not exceed the bounds of the noun "grit". "Grit" means "pluck or spirit", in the one sense. In the other, "gritty" is idiomatically used to mean "unpleasant" as in the sensation of eating gritty bread. So, in either case, does the adjective exceed the semantic bounds of the noun, although we have to determine which one from the context?

    "Steamy" is interesting in that it derived from "steam" as in "scent or odor".

    "Crafty" is from "craft", which meant "power or strength", shifted to mean "skill or art", which degenerated "crafty" into "sly" because of the "skill" aspect of it.
     
  17. Jerome

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    Yes, if an adjective is used exactly as its noun is used it will not exceed the noun's semantic bounds.

    Creative use of language is not necessarily misuse, however.

    In most cases there is no significant difference in meaning between adjectives and the nouns from which they derive. These adjective forms, if even included in a dictionary, are merely listed without explanation with the noun's entry.

    Some adjectives, have, however, acquired particular shades of meaning that are not readily ascertainable merely by referring to the definitions of the source nouns. As is to be expected there are obvious, or sometimes convoluted, connections between the meanings of such adjectives and nouns.
    Such adjectives usually have a separate entry in the dictionary that explains the particular meaning.


    The Online Etymological Dictionary's entry for blue is quite interesting:

    blue
    c.1300, bleu, blwe, etc., from O.Fr. bleu, from Frank. blao, from P.Gmc. *blæwaz, from PIE base *bhle-was "light-colored, blue, blond, yellow." "The exact color to which the Gmc. term applies varies in the older dialects; M.H.G. bla is also "yellow," whereas the Scandinavian words may refer esp. to a deep, swarthy black, e.g. O.N. blamaðr, N.Icel. blamaður 'Negro' " [Buck]. Replaced O.E. blaw, from the same PIE root, which also yielded L. flavus "yellow," O.Sp. blavo "yellowish-gray," Gk. phalos "white," Welsh blawr "gray," O.N. bla "livid" (the meaning in black and blue), showing the usual slippery definition of color words in I.E. The present spelling is since 16c., from Fr. influence. The color of constancy since Chaucer at least, but apparently for no deeper reason than the rhyme in true blue (1500). Blue (adj.) "lewd" is recorded from 1840; the sense connection is unclear, and is opposite to that in blue laws (q.v.). Blueprint is from 1886; the fig. sense of "detailed plan" is first attested 1926...
     
  18. Hope of Glory

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    Well, I've been reading etymological dictionaries here lately, and I missed that one. That really is interesting.

    One thing that I find interesting is when different adjectives come from a word with two meanings, then the meanings become intertwined.

    Also, some words get changed through the use of sarcasm.

    Some words are simply introduced. An example of this that I came across recently is the word "green". It's an adjective that is used to mean "good", and it was introduced artificially into English from a movie.

    So, how do we determine the meaning of adjectives, when they exceed (or completely ignore) the semantic range of the nouns from which they are derived?
     
  19. Jerome

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    That's what dictionaries are for:laugh:

    Sometimes the noun meaning on which the adjective is based has (virtually) disappeared from use.
    Consider portly.

    Context can help. Cleave has two nearly opposite meanings, both of which are used in the Bible:

    Gen. 2:24
    Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

    Deut. 14:6
    And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat.
     

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