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This page pertains to UD version 2.

Clauses with Predication of Property Concepts

Property predication uses similar strategies as object predication. It is recommended to read about object predication first, as not all details are repeated here.

Even though the inventory of strategies is similar, a concrete language may use different strategies for object and property predication.

Properties are typically expressed with adjectives. Example: John is smart.

The exact UD analysis of the construction depends on the strategy used by the language to express it. What the analyses have in common is that the property (e.g., smart) is the root of the clause, while the entity said to have the property is attached to it as the subject.

Zero Strategy

The subject and the property are juxtaposed.

Waskia [wsk] (Ross and Natu Paol 1978:10; Stassen 1997:144; Croft 2022:299)

Kawam/NOUN mu/DET ititi/ADJ ./PUNCT \n House the new.PL .
det(Kawam, mu)
det(House, the)
nsubj(ititi, Kawam)
nsubj(new.PL, House)
punct(ititi, .-4)
punct(new.PL, .-9)

Russian [ru]

Иван/PROPN умный/ADJ ./PUNCT \n Ivan umnyj . \n Ivan smart .
nsubj(умный, Иван)
nsubj(umnyj, Ivan-5)
nsubj(smart, Ivan-9)
punct(умный, .-3)
punct(umnyj, .-7)
punct(smart, .-11)

Chinese [zh] uses a verbal copula for object predication but that copula is not used for property predication. Properties use either zero strategy (Li and Thompson 1981:148,143; Croft 2022:300) or a new nonverbal copula (see below).

她/PRON 胖/ADJ 。/PUNCT \n Tā pàng . \n She fat .
nsubj(胖, 她)
nsubj(pàng, Tā)
nsubj(fat, She)
punct(胖, 。)
punct(pàng, .-7)
punct(fat, .-11)

Nonverbal Copula Strategy

Maltese [mt]

Pietru/PROPN huwa/PRON intelliġenti/ADJ ./PUNCT \n Pietru he intelligent .
nsubj(intelliġenti, Pietru-1)
nsubj(intelligent, Pietru-6)
cop(intelliġenti, huwa)
cop(intelligent, he)
punct(intelliġenti, .-4)
punct(intelligent, .-9)

Contemporary Chinese [zh] has come to use 很 / hěn “very” in a copula-like function with properties (i.e., intensive meaning is not always entailed; Li and Thompson 1981:143–144; Croft 2022:300). In the copular function, 很 should be tagged AUX and attached as cop; however, it may be difficult for the annotators to distinguish the copular function from a normal advmod function.

她/PRON 很/AUX 胖/ADJ 。/PUNCT \n Tā hěn pàng . \n She very fat .
nsubj(胖, 她)
nsubj(pàng, Tā)
nsubj(fat, She)
cop(胖, 很)
cop(pàng, hěn)
cop(fat, very)
punct(胖, 。)
punct(pàng, .-9)
punct(fat, .-14)

Verbal Copula Strategy

German [de] uses an uninflected form of adjectives when they are used predicatively (cf. Das auto ist klein “The car is small” with attributive das kleine Auto, ein kleines Auto “the small car, a small car”).

Das/DET Auto/NOUN ist/AUX klein/ADJ ./PUNCT \n The car is small .
det(Auto, Das)
det(car, The)
nsubj(klein, Auto)
nsubj(small, car)
cop(klein, ist)
cop(small, is)
punct(klein, .-5)
punct(small, .-11)

Russian [ru] uses the zero strategy in the present indicative, but it uses a verbal copula in other tenses and moods. It also marks the adjective with the instrumental case.

Иван/PROPN был/AUX умным/ADJ ./PUNCT \n Ivan byl umnym . \n Ivan was smart .
nsubj(умным, Иван)
nsubj(umnym, Ivan-6)
nsubj(smart, Ivan-11)
cop(умным, был)
cop(umnym, byl)
cop(smart, was)
punct(умным, .-4)
punct(umnym, .-9)
punct(smart, .-14)

Amele [aey] (Roberts 1987:186,65; Stassen 1997:149) predicates properties with the help of a verbal copula that originates in location predication and its original meaning is “to sit”. Croft (2022:295) describes this as a separate locational strategy while admitting that Stassen calls it a verbal copula strategy. Example: “He is well.”

Uqa/PRON me/ADJ bilia/AUX ./PUNCT \n He good sits .
nsubj(me, Uqa)
nsubj(good, He)
cop(me, bilia)
cop(good, sits)
punct(me, .-4)
punct(good, .-9)

Bribri [bzd] (Pittier de Fabrega 1898:144; Lehmann 1920:291; Stassen 1997:84; Croft 2022:300) has a verbal copula whose etymological source was the pronoun i “he/this” combined with verbal affixes for voice and tense. Example: “He is tall and strong.”

Taĩń/ADJ inan/CCONJ de̥ríri/ADJ irir/AUX ./PUNCT \n Tall and strong COP.PRS .
cop(Taĩń, irir)
cop(Tall, COP.PRS)
conj(Taĩń, de̥ríri)
conj(Tall, strong)
cc(de̥ríri, inan)
cc(strong, and)
punct(Taĩń, .-5)
punct(Tall, .-11)

Verbal Strategy

Classical Nahuatl [nci] “I am good” (Croft 2022:294; compare to Ni-chōca “I am crying”):

Ni-cualli/VERB ./PUNCT \n 1SG-good .
punct(Ni-cualli, .-2)
punct(1SG-good, .-5)

There are languages that make almost no difference between adjectives and intransitive stative verbs. For example, Japanese adjectives regularly take verbal inflections. The boundary is also blurred in Chinese where, due to lack of inflectional morphology, the zero strategy could be seen as verbal strategy (except that then the property would have to change the UPOS tag from ADJ to VERB).

Guaraní [gn] “I am warm” (Gregores and Suárez 1967:107,137; Stassen 1997:134–135; Croft 2022:299):

Śe-raku/VERB ./PUNCT \n 1OBJ-warm .
punct(Śe-raku, .-2)
punct(1OBJ-warm, .-5)

Guaraní [gn] “He laughs” (Gregores and Suárez 1967:107,137; Stassen 1997:134–135; Croft 2022:299):

O-puká/VERB ./PUNCT \n 3SBJ-laugh .
punct(O-puká, .-2)
punct(3SBJ-laugh, .-5)