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Adjective Ordering In Herodotus: A Pragmatic Explanation

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Chapter Summary

In this paper, the author discusses what determines the choice between the various possible orderings of two or more adjectives in one noun phrase (NP). He shows that awareness of the order of adjectives will lead to a much more precise interpretation of the Greek text. Although a semantic analysis seems fruitful for the rather fixed adjective orderings in many Indo-European languages, the author's data show that the much more flexible adjective ordering in Greek cannot be determined by the semantics of the adjectives. A clear counter indication is that semantically comparable adjectives often occur in alternating order. Although the order of the adjectives is in accordance with the heaviness principle, the author argues that it is not the heaviness, but the semantics of the adjectives that determine their order. In NPs with coordinated adjectives, however, the constituents’ informativeness is less influential for their ordering.

Keywords: adjective ordering; coordinated adjectives; Greek; noun phrase (NP); semantic analysis

10.1163/ej.9789004156548.i-251.76
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004156548.i-251.76
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