What is this teacher skillful at? Accounting for the meaning of skillful-type adjectives
In this talk, I would like to update on two aspects of a chapter of my dissertation. In the first part of the talk, I address the observation that when a skillful-type adjective combines with an individual denoting noun, the noun is able to serve as the basis for the interpretation of the adjective in some cases (e.g. in skillful teacher, which can be paraphrased as skillful as a teacher), and in others it is not able to do so (e.g. in skillful man, which cannot be paraphrased as skillful as a man). I will assume that this difference is due to an event variable being present in the semantics of teacher, but not man (see Rapp 2015, but compare Larson 1998, Winter&Zwarts 2013, Alexeyenko 2015 and Maienborn 2020). I will, however, argue that the presence of the event variable is important not for semantic composition with skillful-type adjectives, but for the pragmatic process behind the interpretation of the adjective’s context-dependent parameter, since I assume the pragmatic process to be sensitive to the presence of the event variable.
In the second part of the talk, I address the case of the combination of a skillful-type adjective with an event denoting noun, like in his skillful teaching. At first sight, the adjective seems to lose its context-dependence in the presence of an event denoting noun. However, I will present cases that show that this is only an initial impression, and that context-dependence of the adjective can indeed be observed also in the presence of an event denoting noun. As a consequence, I will argue that the analysis of skillful-type adjectives as employing only contextdependent parameters applies also in this case.