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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Coordination and plural
Author:   Jacques Rollin
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics

Query:   Dear Linguists

I am trying to gather some information on how compared items
(adjectival or adverbial) may (typically) be intensified in different
languages, preferably from different language families (my knowledge
limits here to Germanic, with the exception of Finnish). The
phenomenon can be illustrated with following equivalent expressions in
English, German, Swedish and Finnish with a normal (a) and an
intensified (b) comparative
(note the SGML codes for national characters):

1. a. The train went faster.
b. The train went ever faster. (Possibly also: all the faster?)

2. a. Der Zug wurde schneller.
b. Der Zug wurde immer schneller.

3. a. Ta'get gick fortare. (a' =3D å)
b. Ta'get gick allt fortare.

4. a. Juna meni lujempaa.
b. Juna meni yha'' lujempaa. (Possibly also: aina lujempaa)
(a'' =3D ä)

The comparative intensifier, e.g. EVER in English, is in all these
cases some kind of an all-quantifier (or universal quantifier), and
they also seem to relate to the temporal domain communicating ca
'always' (Well, Swedish is here less transparent as regards
temporality). I would like to know if this is a general pattern
cross-linguistically. How often are ''all-expressions'', e.g. ALL THE
TIME/WAY, ALWAYS etc., used as intensifiers of the comparative in the
languages of the world?

Perhaps You fellow Listers would like to provide me with examples from
your own language(s) for starters. I would also appreciate literary
pointers to some introductory work on ''universal quantification'' in
general (please, not too philosophical!). Of course, I will summarize
if there is enough interest.

Jan K. Lindstr=F6m=09=09
Scandinavian Languages and Literature
P.O. Box 4=09=09=09
FIN-00014 Helsinki University=09~jklindst>
LL Issue: 8.758
Date posted: 20-May-1997


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