A Granular Account For Gradable Adjectives

Logique Et Analyse 52 (2009)
Abstract
In this paper I consider one kind of vague linguistic expression: adjec- tives like tall, big, expensive. These are called gradable adjectives. The most well-known linguistic theories that account for them are the so-called degree-based theories. In this paper I present a formal model that accounts for vague gradable adjectives as an alternative to degree-based theories. The model is built on two basic ingredients: (i) comparison classes and (ii) gran- ular partitions. (i) Comparison classes are introduced to account for the context-sensitivity of vague adjectives. The extension of the predicate being tall in the comparison class of men is different from its extension in the com- parison class of children. (ii) We can look at the elements of a context under different standards of precision, each of them corresponding to a granular level of observation. The finer the level is, the more differences between the individuals are detected. Granular partitions are used to represent in- distinguishability relations between objects with respect to the properties expressed by vague adjectives
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