Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
an analysis of reality. We say it is red and define red as a quality-word or adjective. We should consider it strange to think of an equivalent of is red in which the whole predication (adjective and verb of being) is conceived of as a verb in precisely the same way in which we think of extends or lies or sleeps as a verb. Yet as soon as we give the durative notion of being red an inceptive or transitional turn, we can avoid the parallel form it becomes red, it turns red and say it reddens. No one denies that reddens is as good a verb as sleeps or even walks. Yet it is red is related to it reddens very much as is he stands to he stands up or he rises. It is merely a matter of English or of general Indo-European idiom that we cannot say it reds in the sense of it is red. There are hundreds of languages that can. Indeed there are many that can express what we should call an adjective only by making a participle out of a verb. Red in such languages is merely a derivative being red, as our sleeping or walking are derivatives of primary verbs.
Just as we can verbify the idea of a quality in such cases as reddens, so we can represent a quality or an action to ourselves as a thing. We speak of the height of a building or the fall of an apple quite as though these ideas were parallel to the roof of a building or the skin of an apple, forgetting that the nouns (height, fall) have not ceased to indicate a quality and an act when we have made them speak with the accent of mere objects. And just as there are languages that make verbs of the great mass of adjectives, so there are others that make nouns of them. In Chinook, as we have seen, the big table is the-table its-bigness; in Tibetan the same idea may be expressed by the table