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At breakfast on Thursday she bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a library book called Quidditch Through the Ages.

–– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

As far as I understand from CGEL (p.251, 262~3), it seems like stupid is a predicative adjunct whose predicand is them all; while in Kim seemed uneasy, uneasy is the predicative complement. And stupid modifies the predicator, bored. Is this the correct interpretation?

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    I'd say yes. She is the subject and is necessary. bore is the verb and part of the predicate and is necessary. It's transitive and requires an direct object: them all. So, all you need is: "She bored them all". Stupid is part of the predicate "to bore (so) stupid" but doesn't add any value. – Em1 Dec 19 '13 at 16:13
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    I would argue that "all" is only in there for emphasis and the the essential parts are "she bored them stupid", i.e "she bored them to a state of stupidity". – DWin Dec 19 '13 at 20:42
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    Bore/Talk X silly/stupid/to death is a causative construction (which other words also participate in) meaning 'talk/bore X, with the result that X become silly/stupid/dead'. There are a lot of other types of these constructions, which is why I don't like the phrase "predicative adjunct" -- it's a wastebasket category that doesn't identify either form or function. Shoot X dead is causative, but not bury X alive or capture X alive. This is the Green Conspiracy again. – John Lawler Dec 19 '13 at 20:51
  • @JohnLawler, I understand that CGEL would say 'she shot him dead' has resultative adjunct (p.251); 'They buried him alive' depictive one. For the former "denote a change of state." It seems like Green and CGEL have very similar ideas. – Listenever Dec 19 '13 at 23:18
  • Although I don't like naming grammatical constructions according to what they're sposta mean; meaning is not observable, whereas patterns of usage are. – John Lawler Dec 19 '13 at 23:41
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As Em1 notes in the comments:

She is the subject and is necessary. bore is the verb and part of the predicate and is necessary. It's transitive and requires an direct object: them all. So, all you need is: "She bored them all". Stupid is part of the predicate "to bore (so) stupid" but doesn't add any value.

Using the classifications noted on Wikipedia, "stupid" seems to fit best with "measure":

Measure - Measure adjuncts establish the measure of the action, state, or quality that they modify

  • I am completely finished.
  • That is mostly true.
  • We want to stay in part.

"Stupid" is, more or less, a degree of boredom and isn't a literal state of being stupid. Or, in other words, she didn't cause them to become stupid; she simply bored them greatly.

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+100

" she bored them all stupid"

"stupid" modifies the object "them" so I would call it an object complement or if you want "a predicative complement modifying the object". Much longer.

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At breakfast on Thursday she bored them all stupid with flying tips she'd gotten out of a library book called Quidditch Through the Ages.

I guess that one possible name for stupid is a "resultative secondary predicate". A resultative secondary predicate describes what state the verb's argument has assumed as a result of the event expressed by the verb:

Stan cooked the steak black
Boris pounded the metal flat

She bored them to a dazed, "stupid" condition.


In the parlance used by Huddleston and Pullum, stupid is not an adjunct either. They write:

Obligatory predicatives are clearly complements, dependent on the occurrence of an appropriate verb. With optional ones, however, there are grounds for saying that while the resultatives are complements, the depictives are adjuncts. (Chapter 4, §5.3, "Optioinal depictive predicatives as adjuncts")

In your example sentence, stupid describes the result. It is not depictive. In H&P's terminology, it is an "optional resultative predicative complement". It's object-oriented: its predicand is "them (all)".

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Yes, that's the correct interpretation. "Stupid" is an adjunct, since the example sentence without it is acceptable and has a meaning which is a part of the meaning of the sentence with "stupid". "Stupid" is predicated of "them all", so it is predicative. Since it is an adjunct and is predicative, it is a predicative adjunct.

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