Teuer war gestern und wir lieben billig: Über Adjektive als Subjekte und Objekte im heutigen Deutsch

Translated title of the contribution: "Expensive was Yesterday and We Love Cheap": About Adjectives as Subjects and Objects in Contemporary German

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Canonically, quality adjectives such as teuer 'expensive1 or billig 'cheap' are used attributively or predica-Tively to ascribe properties to other referents. In modern German, however, such quality adjectives are also found uninflected as subjects, objects, or complements of a preposition, as in teuer wargestern (lit. 'expensive was yesterday'), wir hassen teuer (lit. 'we hate expensive') or der Verbraucher verlangt nach billig (lit. 'the consumer calls for cheap'). In this use the adjective names a contextually salient property, while the actual bearer of this property remains implicit. The article describes this construction and offers an analysis of it, arguing that it is not an ellipsis. The adjective is reanalyzed as a name (and hence as a noun) of a class designation such as a property or a quality. The adjective behaves as the second part of an explicative apposition in which the first part has to be inferred contextually (i.e. the property expensive or the quality cheap). This analysis explains the syntactic peculiarities of the construction and it shows the parallels of the construction to the well-known use of colour adjectives in NP-positions (e.g. die Fufiballmannschaft tragt rot 'the football team is wearing red'). Finally the construction is compared to the use of adjectives as complements of modal verbs as in billig kann jeder (lit. 'everyone can cheap') meaning: Anyone can offer a service that is cheap. In this use, however, the adjective is syntactically licensed as an adverbial by the modal verb. The novelty consists in the fact that manner adverbials are allowed as complements of modal verbs.
Translated title of the contribution"Expensive was Yesterday and We Love Cheap": About Adjectives as Subjects and Objects in Contemporary German
Original languageGerman
JournalDeutsche Sprache
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)97-115
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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