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Degree and its many forms : definition(s), parameters, and a few questions. Catherine CHAUVIN (U. de Lorraine, Nancy) Journées d ’agrégation sur « L’expression.

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Presentation on theme: "Degree and its many forms : definition(s), parameters, and a few questions. Catherine CHAUVIN (U. de Lorraine, Nancy) Journées d ’agrégation sur « L’expression."— Presentation transcript:

1 Degree and its many forms : definition(s), parameters, and a few questions. Catherine CHAUVIN (U. de Lorraine, Nancy) Journées d ’agrégation sur « L’expression du degré », programme 2014 Université de Bordeaux 3, 24/01/14

2 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 I. WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?

3 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Degree => many forms Many aspects/ ‘chapters’ of language: quantification, exclamation, modality, comparison/ superlatives, aspect, adverbs, adjectives… + various forms, adjectives, adverbs, but also e.g., certain idioms: (as) fit as a fiddle… More or less lexicalized/ grammaticalized (e.g. very vs many other « intensive » adverbs); « no » (open) mark (?) (It’s expensive, e.g. Kennedy 2006) Semantic(s) and pragmatic(s) (?)

4 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 + Links and opposition with other notions (sub-classes? Qualitatively different? (all/ partly) Just different labels?) Degree Scale/ scalar/ scalarity Intensity/ [intensification] Gradation/ grading (Sapir)/ gradabilility/ grading/ graded/ gradience (Aarts)…

5 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Definition -> all that is not binary…? -> A ‘positive’ definition of degree?

6 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 + The expression of degree (« L’expression du degré ») => does this include/ exclude something? What does one mean by ‘expression’? (not. semantics/ pragmatics)

7 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 + It can/ may open other types of questions: -> Discourse analysis

8 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 -> + Sociolinguistics?

9 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 A. Stephen Fry in Stephen Fry in America: ‘That’s rather splendid’ -> Use of quite in the UK/ US (« understatement »…) B. Number of emphasis markers in teenage talk, and constant evolution of this (French: top, trop; English:) e.g. It sounds top banana! (D. Williams, Mr Stink p. 115) Chloe grinned. That was superbrilliantamazing! (p. 329) Completedness/ ‘telicity’/ ‘full; as much as it can be’: The bus was chock-a-block with people. (226) – [+ ‘Lip gloss?’ ‘A smidge’ (181)]

10 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 C. (i.e., also) Language change? -> « erosion » of emphasis markers and re- invention (‘expressiveness’/ expressivity) D. Role of genres, registers, once again here Some of today’s examples are taken from children’s books written by comedian D. Walliams, which shows quite a lot of invention for degree markers and scales

11 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 [NB. Degree might also be used in a meta-/ theoretical way (e.g. how clear-cut linguistic categories are, vs fuzziness, for instance, cf. Aarts: 2007’s syntactic gradience; not dealt with directly here]

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13 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Still, important/ interesting => presence, many markers + links between them: Natural languages reflect this fact: all languages have syntactic categories that express gradable concepts, and all languages have designated comparative constructions, which are used to express orderings between two objects with respect to the degree or amount to which they possess some property (Sapir 1944). (Kennedy 2006) Very important role of scalar structures in language (Kennedy et al.) => Different aspects to be explored/ (made more precise (?))

14 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 II. DEFINING ‘DEGREE’ II. DEFINING ‘DEGREE’

15 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/ Defining it ‘per se’?

16 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Not always explicitly defined (used vs defined)

17 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Certain/ specific aspects may be openly defined -> vs « degree » as such? Scale vs degree (Kennedy 2006); see below

18 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Everything that is not binary => too large (what isn’t degree?) + not very precise… (+ difficulties to oppose complementary vs gradable in a strict way (true, false; male, female…; [partially?] contextual dependence)

19 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Sapir 1944 ‘link’ with comparison / comparison being the most basic operation of all (=> comparison as such, but also larger) Taken up by Kennedy (on comparatives): ‘The ability to establish orderings among objects and make comparisons between them according to the amount or degree to which they possess some property is a basic component of human cognition.’ => + more precise (series of) definitions

20 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 + many ways of expressing degree/ semantic differences

21 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/ Defining it in relation to other notions

22 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Could be a question of theoretical choice, or just preferences (no obvious reason but a preferred choice of words)?

23 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Degree vs grade (and derived forms) Degree -> perhaps more traditional (although common) More general as well Grading -> also Aarts 2007; but « gradience »

24 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Bierwisch, M. (1989). The Semantics of gradation. In M. Bierwisch, & E. Lang (Eds.), Dimensional adjectives. (pp. 71–261). Berlin: Springer-Verlag. Cresswell, M. J. (1977). The semantics of degree. In B. Partee (Ed.), Montague grammar (pp. 261–292). New York: Academic Press.

25 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 => graded based on one type of property/ syntactic behaviour (gradability), but which in itself needs further defining? (See part 3)

26 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Degree and scalarity Scale A ‘historical’ difference => more ‘recent’ studies

27 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 + main difference could be that they include a lot of work on time/ tense, and in particular, aspect => includes verb and event semantics in the study of grading -> telicity (and discussion) -> incremental themes (e.g. He ate an apple) Link between time and degree -> the passing of time is gradual, per se; + may include a gradual evolution of some element that is associated to the event as time passes (cf. incremental themes)

28 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Allows for an integrated study of time and degree

29 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 In Kennedy (2006), degree vs scale: a. Gradable adjectives map their arguments onto abstract representations of measurement, or DEGREES b. A set of degrees totally ordered with respect to some DIMENSION (height, cost, etc.) constitutes a SCALE.

30 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Degree and intensity Who uses the term « intensity »? Can be very large term: Romero (2007)/ (2005) -> rhetorical, phonetics, … Problem of something that could be too encompassing? (cf. « expressiveness ») Should it be made more precise? How? Is that just a possible effect of degree-marking (« effet de sens ») or on the contrary, is that much vaguer than degree? [Link with modality]

31 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Complicated terminology -> history of the field, frameworks… + question of whether all these facts can or cannot be subsumed under a same notion Try and define what is studied as clearly as possible…

32 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 (On a tentative basis…) Grading => syntactic property Degree => value on a scale Scale => ordered set of points with values attached to them (+ types of scale) Scalarity => possible link with a scale Gradability => possible use of grading terms Intensity => larger, includes saliency, expressiveness…

33 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 III. TYPES OF DEGREE/ WAYS OF EXPRESSING DEGREE

34 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 [Quantity vs Quality opposition + ? (NB. not all on same level)

35 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 -> modes of expression of degree: direct/ indirect -> degree/ degree + something else -> degree in quality/ quantity; degree in quantification+qualification vs/ and space?/ time (links, differences) -> [comparison/ superlatives and their forms/ uses] -> there are scales… and scales? Scale types and « gradation » in the organization of the lexicon/ in grammar -> there’s ‘degree of degree’ (so very nice; far more impressive, etc.)

36 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Direct/ indirect expression of degree

37 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Directness/ indirectness in the expression of degree Lexicalized elements: very nice Less lexicalized elements: ruddy hilarious (222)/ dead famous (?) +/- collocation? Novel uses (?): bum-numbingly boring (119) Direct: very nice Indirect: i.e. pragmatic or discursive Bum-numbingly boring -> degree by implicature?

38 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Pragmatics and semantics NB. Scales and implicatures (Q-implicatures) ‘Is(n’t) she great?’ ‘She’s nice.’

39 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Discursive … and mixed devices (comparison, +…) Chloe was a hundred times more excited than she had ever been in her life. (240) (direct comparison) But Chloe would have watched a hundred of them if they meant not having to spend the day campaigning with Mother. That was how boring it was going to be. (120) (still direct comparison but less directly constructed; constructed link between two independently created situations; two ‘mental spaces’ ‘brought together’ vs ‘blended’ (?)) [finally not used: ?]

40 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 High degree/ center -> ways of constructing it indirectly/ through discourse This was evident. Sapphire had fake tan smeared all over every inch of her skin. She was now orange. As orange as an orange, if not orangier. Think of the orangiest person you’ve ever met, then times [sic] their orangeness by ten. And if she didn’t look frightful enough already, she was wearing a lime green mini-dress and clutching a shocking pink handbag. (Billionaire Boy, p. 146)

41 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 -> play on notion (‘orangeness’, ‘orangier’) and degrees of belonging to it -> use of an element that could ‘embody’ central characteristics (orange, fruit: as orange as an orange) + discursive use of reinforcement (« if not orangier ») -> comparison with an independently constructed scene: think of… (another situation, then make the link). -> modified cliché: « Think of… then double/ triple it », augmented quantity: ‘X ten’ -> Finally ‘mental’ image is reinforced by prompting the reader to picture orange + lime-green + shocking pink together (… device?) -> + ‘saliency’ => (all together)

42 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Hierarchy of situations vs in lexical field… (pragmatic/ cultural) => expression of degree? D. Walliams, Gangsta Granny -> scale/ degree marked by types of situation (=> lexicalization?/ cultural dimension?)

43 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 David Williams, Billionaire Boy (idem)

44 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Ibidem, to reinforce the ‘purpleness’ of the boy’s ‘bum’ later on

45 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 David Walliams, Mr Stink (idem)

46 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Another example (cf. slide 40) Mr Stink stank. He also stunk. And if it is correct English to say he stinked, then he stinked as well. He was the stinkiest stinky stinker who ever lived. A stink is the worst type of smell. A stink is worse than a stench. And a stench is worse than a pong. And a pong is worse than a whiff. And a whiff can be enough to make your nose wrinkle. (DW, Mr Stink, p. 11)

47 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 -> use of word to emphasize degree (cf. repetition + belonging to notional domain) + here, play on different forms (all morphological forms iconically put together to add to the idea that the smell is strong) 2 nd paragraph: resort to lexical scale in lexical field of smell (partly constructed discursively) Stink < stench < pong < whiff (graded quality -> badness of smell) + whiff is supposed to be « enough.. » (comparison/ enough)-> so the rest is gradually worse

48 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Conclusions? -> can be indirect/ direct; constructed discursively -> not always explicitly formulated (cf. types of situations) + strong pragmatic/ cultural component -> can be a mixture of many devices at the same time/ together

49 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Degree + something else

50 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Adverbs marking a high position on a scale She knew full well what it was like (16) Are just plain idle. (86) The smell was especially bad today. (96-97) ? Looked stiffly immaculate (101) It was thrillingly, terrifyingly real (143) You must have been dead famous! ( ) … which Chloe thought pretty fitting (149) A truly ridiculous voice (161) She’s an absolutely fantastic girl (188)…

51 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 ‘The empirical picture is complicated somewhat by the fact that not all modifiers co-occur with all adjectives for apparently idiosyncratic reasons’ (Kennedy 2006)

52 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 => degree + degree and something else (not necessarily « just » degree, perhaps never): absolutely vs truly, etc. => something else that can express degree as well (implicature; lexicalized or less so) cf. stiffly immaculate (pragmatics again?) => not just idiosyncrasy/ collocation, but semantic compatibility…? Degree ‘only’ ø, maybe very?? Degree + something elseTruly X, thrillingly Y [+ Degree by implicatureStiffly immaculate?]

53 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Types of scales/ organization of the lexicon

54 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 There are scales and scales; graded fields and graded fields E.g. Modality: (might?)/ may/ must/ will? Quantity/ quantifiers: no/ some/ all -> cf. implicatures (Some students never handed in their papers)

55 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Totally open Lower closed Upper closed Totally closed (Kennedy 2006)

56 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Gradable adjectives: -> equipollent vs non-equipollent (cf. Cruse 2004; + other examples -> …) Old/ young, high/ low vs. sad/ happy… Cruse 1986 Not open ==> closed Not large =X=> small

57 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 Relative vs absolute adjectives (Kennedy 2006; Kennedy et McNally 2005) ordered sets (+ Cruse 2004) haze< mist< fog < pea-souper, etc.

58 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 IV. SO…?

59 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 - Multiple parameters - Should make sure they’re as well defined as possible (although not always easy) -Importance of: => lexicalization/ non lexicalization;  (i.e., all in all) Directness/ indirectness  Pragmatic and discursive aspects (even cultural, for some things) as well as semantics; to what extent? Different modes/ ways of expressing degree (‘degree’ in general/ types of degree)

60 Degree and its many forms. C. CHAUVIN. Bordeaux 24/01/14 References (to be completed + site ) Aarts B., 2007, Syntactic gradience, Oxford, Oxford University Press. Cruse, D. A., 1986, Lexical semantics, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press. Cruse D.A., 2004, Meaning in Language, Oxford, OUP, “Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics”. Kennedy C., 2006, Vagueness and grammar: the semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives, Linguistics and Philosophy; Kennedy, C., & McNally, L., 1999, From event structure to scale structure: Degree modification in deverbal adjectives. In T. Matthews, & D. Strolovitch (Eds.), Semantics and linguistic theory 9 (pp. 163–180). Ithaca, NY Kennedy, C., & McNally, L., 2005, Scale structure and the semantic typology of gradable predicates. Language, 81(2), 345–381. Romero C. (2007), Pour une définition générale de l’intensité, Travaux de linguistique 54, p Sapir, E. (1944). Grading: A study in semantics. Philosophy of Science, 11, 93–116.


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