Adjectivality of a non-prototypical adjective: The case of Finnish past passive participles

Radosław Wójtowicz


The present paper examines the adjectivality of past passive participles in Finnish. ADJECTIVALITY is understood as the degree to which participles display properties typical of adjectives on the morphosyntactic and semantic level, as different from ADJECTIVISATION, which is brought down to how distant in morphosyntax and semantics a participle is from its verbal counterpart. It is demonstrated that varying conclusions might be reached depending on which of the two approaches is adopted. This article studies participles’ adjectivality in the predicative position and shows that when used predicatively, participles demonstrate features comparable to those of lexical adjectives which have not been addressed in studies focusing on the attributive use of participles. Other morpohosyntactic criteria of adjectivality examined in this paper include: displaying gradable properties, serving as a derivative basis for adverbs and forming antonyms. In terms of semantics, the key feature in explaining participles’ adjectivality is boundedness. It is argued that adjectivally used Finnish past passive participles designate properties which sometimes bear a relatively distant relation to the events included in the meaning of their verbal counterparts. Varying interpretations in the domain of boundedness between adjectivally and verbally used participles are taken to illustrate these differences in event-relatedness. This paper also suggests that several Finnish past passive participles be recognised as separate dictionary entries.

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