• Dutch
  • Frisian
  • Afrikaans
Show full table of contents
9.5. Modification of (pseudo-)participles and deverbal adjectives

This section shows that there is a special class of adjectival modifiers that can be used to modify attributively and predicatively used participles. We will show that such intensifiers also occur with pseudo-participles and deverbal adjectives.

[+]  I.  Past/passive and present participles

Attributively and predicatively used participles are special in that they generally cannot be modified by amplifiers like zeer'very' or downtoners like vrij'rather'; the only exceptions are the present and past/passive participles of the object experiencer psych-verbs, such as those given in (163).

Example 163
a. De film is zeer/vrij opwindend.
  the movie  is very/rather  exciting
a'. De jongen is zeer/vrij opgewonden.
  the boy  is very/rather  excited
b. Dat boek is zeer/vrij intrigerend.
  that book  is very/rather  intriguing
b'. De jongen is zeer/vrij geïntrigeerd.
  that boy  is very/rather  intrigued

The resistance to modification by an intensifier even holds if the participle seems to imply some scale. Take a participle such as opgeleid'trained' in (164), which is derived from the transitive verb opleiden'to train': regardless of whether someone has had only a basic or a more extensive education, we would call the person educated, which shows that opgeleid refers to a range on some implied scale. Nevertheless, example (164a) shows that we cannot use an amplifier or downtoner to indicate which point on the implied scale we mean, and (164b&c) show that comparative/superlative formation is also blocked; see Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 for a comprehensive discussion of modification and comparison.

Example 164
a. * Jan lijkt zeer/vrij opgeleid voor deze functie.
  Jan seems  very/rather  trained  for this job
b. * Jan lijkt opgeleider voor deze functie.
  Jan seems  more.trained  for this job
c. * Jan lijkt het opgeleidst voor deze functie.
  Jan seems  the most.trained  for this job

Indicating the intended point on the implied scale is possible, however, by using the adjectival intensifiers slecht'badly' and goed'well' in (165), which refer to, respectively, the lower and the higher side of the implied scale. Example (165a') shows that the sequence goed/slecht opgeleid voor deze functie can be placed in clause-initial position, from which we conclude that the intensifier and the adjectival participle form a constituent; cf. the constituency test.

Example 165
a. Deze jongen lijkt me goed/slecht opgeleid voor deze functie.
  this boy  seems  me well/badly trained  for this job
  'This boy seems to me to be well/badly trained for this job.'
a'. Goed/slecht opgeleid voor deze functie lijkt deze jongen niet.
b. een voor deze functie goed/slecht opgeleide jongen
  for this job  well/badly  trained  boy

More examples of adjectivally used past/passive participles that can be modified by means of an intensifier are given in (166).

Example 166
a. De maaltijd bleek goed/slecht bereid.
  the meal  turned.out  well/ill  prepared
b. De zaal bleek goed/slecht verlicht.
  the room  turned.out  well/poorly  illuminated
c. Jan leek goed/slecht voorbereid.
  Jan seemed  well/ill  prepared
d. Jan bleek zijdelings/nauw betrokken bij de aanslag.
  Jan turned.out  indirectly/deeply involved  in the assault

For completeness’ sake, note that the intensifiers slecht'badly' and goed'well' belong to the class of gradable adjectives, and may therefore be subject to modification by means of an amplifier/downtoner themselves and may also undergo comparative and superlative formation. This is illustrated in (167).

Example 167
a. Deze jongen lijkt zeer/vrij goed/slecht opgeleid.
  this boy  seems  very/rather  well/ill  trained
b. Deze jongen lijkt beter/slechter opgeleid.
  this boy  seems  better/worse  trained
c. Deze jongen lijkt het best/slechtst opgeleid.
  this boy  seems  the best/worst  trained

      Occasionally, the modifiers of predicatively/attributively used participles seem to correspond to manner adverbs; see Section 3.5, sub III, for other cases in which VP adverbs seem to modify an adjective. This can be seen in the (a)-examples of (168): in the primeless example zorgvuldig is used as a manner adverb, whereas in the primed examples it is used as a modifier of the adjectivally used past/passive participle bereid'prepared'. The (b)-examples show, however, that this is not always possible; hoog can be used as a modifier of the participle opgeleid'trained', but not as a manner adverb.

Example 168
a. Jan bereidde de maaltijd zorgvuldig.
  Jan prepared  the meal  carefully
a'. De maaltijd bleek zorgvuldig bereid.
  the meal  turned.out  carefully  prepared
a''. de zorgvuldig bereide maaltijd
  the  carefully  prepared  meal
b. * de leraar leidde de jongen hoog op
  the teacher  educated  the boy  high  prt.
b'. De jongen bleek hoog opgeleid.
  the boy  turned.out  highly trained
  'The boy turned out well-trained.'
b''. de hoog opgeleide jongen
  the  highly trained  boy
[+]  II.  Pseudo-participles

Pseudo-participles like gehandicapt'handicapped' can combine with similar adjectival intensifiers as predicatively and attributively used participles; (169) provides examples that involve the intensifiers zwaar and licht. These examples show again that these intensifiers are themselves gradable adjectives: they can be modified by an amplifier or downtoner, and comparative/superlative formation is possible as well. Other pseudo-participles that can be modified by adjectival intensifiers are given in (170).

Example 169
a. Jan is (zeer) zwaar/licht gehandicapt.
  Jan is very  heavily/lightly  handicapped
  'Jan has a severe/small handicap.'
b. Jan is zwaarder/lichter gehandicapt dan Peter.
  Jan is more/less severely  handicapped  than Peter
c. Jan is het zwaarst/lichtst gehandicapt.
  Jan is the most/least severely  handicapped
Example 170
a. nauw verwant aan
  closely  related  to
e. goed/slecht opgewassen tegen
  well/badly  up  to
b. goed/slecht bekend met
  well/badly  familiar  with
f. ruim/nauw behuisd
  spaciously/crampedly  housed
c. zwaar/licht gewond
  severely/lightly  wounded
g. goed/%slecht bevriend met
  well/badly friendly  with
d. goed/slecht bestand tegen
  well/badly  resistant  to
h. zwaar/licht behaard
  heavily/lightly  hairy
[+]  III.  Deverbal adjectives

Deverbal adjectives, like verstaanbaar'intelligible' and verteerbaar'digestible' in (171), can be also used with intensifiers similar to those that combine with predicatively and attributively used participles. Again, the intensifiers act as gradable adjectives: they can be modified by an amplifier or downtoner, and comparative/superlative formation is possible as well.

Example 171
a. Jan is (zeer/vrij) goed/slecht verstaanbaar.
  Jan is  very/rather  well/badly  intelligible
b. Jan is beter/slechter verstaanbaar dan Peter.
  Jan is better/worse  intelligible  than Peter
c. Jan is het best/slechtst verstaanbaar.
  Jan is the best/worst  intelligible
Example 172
a. Deze maaltijd is (zeer/vrij) licht/zwaar verteerbaar.
  this meal  is   very/rather  easily/difficult  digestible
  'This meal is (very/rather) easy/difficult to digest.'
b. Deze maaltijd is lichter/zwaarder verteerbaar.
  this meal  is  more.easily/more.difficult  digestible
  'This meal is easier/more difficult to digest.'
c. Deze maaltijd is het lichtst/zwaarst verteerbaar.
  this meal  is  the most.easily/most.difficult  digestible
  'This meal is easiest/the most difficult to digest.'
[+]  IV.  A note on interrogative intensifiers

The examples in the previous subsections amply demonstrate that the intensifiers under discussion belong to the class of gradable adjectives. Being gradable themselves, they can also be questioned, in which case they may be extracted from the complex AP. The alternative option of moving the complete AP also seems to be available, but gives rise to a somewhat marked result. In (173), this is demonstrated for the (a)-examples in (167), (169) and (171).

Example 173
a. Hoe goed is deze jongen opgeleid?
  how well  is this boy  trained
  'How well trained is this boy?'
a'. ? Hoe goed opgeleid is deze jongen?
b. Hoe zwaar is Jan gehandicapt/behaard?
  how heavily  is Jan handicapped/hairy
  'How severely handicapped is Jan?/'How hairy is Jan?'
b'. ? Hoe zwaar gehandicapt/behaard is Jan?
c. Hoe goed is Jan verstaanbaar?
  how well  is Jan intelligible
  'How well intelligible is Jan?'
c'. ? Hoe goed verstaanbaar is Jan?

    Suggestions for further reading ▼
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    Show more ▼
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    • Demonstrative pronouns
      [82%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Pronouns
    • Cardinal numbers
      [81%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Numerals
    • Personal pronouns
      [80%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Pronouns
    • -s
      [79%] Frisian > Morphology > Word formation > Derivation > Suffixation > Adverbial suffixes > Noun as base
    • In prenominal position
      [79%] Frisian > Morphology > Inflection > Adjectives
    Show more ▼
    • Dutch
    • Frisian
    • Afrikaans
    • 9.1. General discussion
      [87%] Dutch > Syntax > Adjectives and Adjective Phrases > 9 Participles and infinitives: their adjectival use
    • Semantic classification
      [86%] Dutch > Syntax > Adjectives and Adjective Phrases > 1 Characteristics and classification > 1.3. A semantic classification > 1.3.2. Set-denoting adjectives
    • 9.2.1. Past and present participles
      [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Adjectives and Adjective Phrases > 9 Participles and infinitives: their adjectival use > 9.2. Attributive use
    • 3.1.2. Modification by an intensifier
      [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Adjectives and Adjective Phrases > 3 Projection of adjective phrases II: Modification > 3.1. Modification of scalar adjectives
    • 1.3. Inflection
      [85%] Dutch > Syntax > Verbs and Verb Phrases > 1 Characterization and classification
    Show more ▼
    This topic is the result of an automatic conversion from Word and may therefore contain errors.
    A free Open Access publication of the corresponding volumes of the Syntax of Dutch is available at OAPEN.org.