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For instance, theoretically in theoretically possible can be said to have a somewhat reducing effect on the adjective; theoretically possible is slightly less possible than unmarked possible (Lorenz 1999, 123). Having considered the adverb’s functional tendency to modify degree, this chapter gives a significant portion to a discussion of degree modifiers and their categorization. The second point relates to the semantic feature of gradability. Due to the fact that degree modifiers are concerned with an assessment of a gradable constituent, any discussion of degree modification would be incomplete without some detailed considerations of the question of gradability.

G. it’s worth her while / the job will be worth my while, etc. Cowie (1994) distinguishes between ‘‘figurative idioms’’ such as do a U-turn and ‘‘pure idioms’’ such as blow the gaff. According to him, figurative idioms preserve a current literal interpretation. Substitution of their elements are seldom possible. Pure idioms are those which have a purely figurative meaning and do not preserve the current literal interpretation, and 23 substitution of the elements is impossible. Nesselhauf (2003) points out that all the elements of the idioms are used in restricted senses and their substitution is either impossible or at least very limited.

In their function to identify qualities which someone or something has, ‘‘qualitative adjectives’’ are gradable, which means that the person or thing referred to can have more or less of the quality mentioned. Such as sad in a sad story, pretty in a pretty girl, small in a small child. , (CCEG) identifies a gradable adjective by the possibility of ‘‘submodification’’ by very and rather, and by the possibility of these adjectives to occur in the comparative and the superlative. ‘‘Classifying adjectives’’, on the other hand, are said to identify the class that something belongs to.

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