LINGUIST List 14.2666

Fri Oct 3 2003

Qs: Eng Adjective Inflections; Object Expletives

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  1. Dirk Elzinga, analyses of English comparative and superlative
  2. Claudia Borgonovo, Object Expletives

Message 1: analyses of English comparative and superlative

Date: Wed, 01 Oct 2003 13:01:48 -0600
From: Dirk Elzinga <>
Subject: analyses of English comparative and superlative


Marking an adjective for the comparative or superlative degree in
English involves one of two strategies. The morphological strategy
suffixes -er or -est to the adjective base:

brown; brown-er, brown-est
silly; silli-er, silli-est

The syntactic strategy uses the degree words 'more' and 'most' in 
composition with the adjective:

intelligent; more intelligent, most intelligent
obtuse; more obtuse, most obtuse

I am interested in published analyses of the choice between these two 
strategies. It has been stated that the choice is based on the prosody 
of the adjective, such that adjective bases which fit within a single 
trochaic foot are more likely to show morphological comparatives and 
superlatives, while adjectives which do not fit within that template 
will show syntactic comparatives and superlatives. Can anyone point me 
to relevant literature? I have thus far only been able to find informal 
or "in passing" references to the prosodic nature of adjective 
inflection in English, and I would appreciate being able to look at a 
fuller treatment of the problem. I will be happy to summarize the 
bibliographic information if there is interest.

Thanks for your help,

Dirk Elzinga
Department of Linguistics and English Language
Brigham Young University
2079 JKHB
Provo, UT 84602
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Message 2: Object Expletives

Date: Thu, 02 Oct 2003 15:47:09 -0300
From: Claudia Borgonovo <>
Subject: Object Expletives

I am a graduate student starting my PhD in syntax. I'd be grateful for
any references on object expletives in languages other than English
(articles, languages, grammars). I'll post a summary of any
forthcoming responses. Please respond to: Thanks
in advance.

Aviva Shimelman
Universit´┐Ż Laval
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