Measuring nominal descriptivity
- Using Ultan's theory of descriptivity grading as a starting point, I will attempt to capture this differential utility in terms of [...] criteria of literalness, explicitness and syntactic complexity. I will first briefly present his System and investigate some generalizations which he has proposed on the basis of his study of body part terminologies in numerous languages. I will apply his theory to nouns in this and four other semantic domains, in three North American Indian languages. I will test his generalizations and propose some new ones. I will then present an alternative system of descriptivity grading and compare the results of its application with those of Ultan's system. In the final section I will suggest another methodology for quantification. An appendix at the end of the paper lists all of the descriptive lexical items mentioned, graded according to both systems.