Classification of Mandarin Chinese simple adjectives: A scale-based analysis of their quantitative denotations

Jingxia Lin, Jeeyoung Peck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This work provides an analysis of the quantitative denotations of simple adjectives (base adjectival forms) in Mandarin Chinese following recent analyses of the 'scale structure' associated with English adjectives. Against a widely accepted assumption that simple adjectives unitarily denote an unbounded property, we assume that the property of boundedness in adjectives is situated in the notion of gradability, and identify a group of simple adjectives that are actually bounded. We further provide a finer-grained classification of Chinese simple adjectives based on the different scale structures associated with individual adjectives: non-scale adjectives, open-scale adjectives, lower-closed-scale adjectives, upper-closed-scale adjectives and totally-closed-scale adjectives. Each type is linguistically distinguishable in natural Chinese data. Our classification provides a unified account of the distinctive syntactic and semantic characteristics of individual adjectives that cannot be explained by previous studies. This study also demonstrates a cross-linguistic and cross-categorical application of the scale-structure-based analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-855
Number of pages29
JournalLanguage and Linguistics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2016 Oct 1


  • Mandarin Chinese
  • Quantitative denotations
  • Scale structure
  • Simple adjectives

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