The Concept of the Relative Adjective

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Abstract

This article aims to give a cognitive linguistic account of the dual nature of the concept of relative adjectives, and the specific character of their semantic processes. After a brief discussion of the adjectival character of the relative subclass, it will be argued that denominal relative adjectives belong to the class of predicate words (i.e., words denoting property and hence forming a predicate concept), while retaining, on the other hand, the substantive nature of the basic noun’s concept. Further, two subclasses of relative adjectives are contrasted in view of their cognitive processes: substancepredicate, denoting a certain substance of which an object is made, and argumentpredicate, denoting an object the relation to which becomes a property of another object. The substance-predicate group of relative adjectives will be analyzed as having the properties of qualitative adjectives, as they clarify their meanings in discourse due to the operation of profiling the landmark properties on the base of the trajector of the described object. On the other hand, the conceptual entity of argument-predicate relative adjectives can be described by means of the theory of conceptual integration. Argument-predicate adjectives in discourse form a new conceptual blend that is the result of mapping the mental spaces of the predicate concept and the concept of the described noun. The relation between the two objects that appears in the blend forms the context meaning of the adjective

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