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Summary Details

Query:   Comparatives/Syntax
Author:  Heather Taylor
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Syntax

Summary:   On April 16, 2004, I posted a Q to LINGUIST (15.1224) about expressions like (1)-(3):

(1) The bigger the dog, the harder to train
(2) The deeper a well is, the fresher its water
(3) The quieter the house, the more likely the baby is to sleep

Ora Matushansky pointed out that these go by the term ''comparative correlatives'' and referred me to references by Borsley, Culicover and Jackendoff, and den Dikken.

Laurence Horn pointed me in the direction of McCawley (sure enough, there is a proceedings paper by McCawley on the subject in Berkeley Linguistic Society 1988, as well as discussing it in his 1998 book). Larry also sent me the URL for den Dikken's paper.

Frank Gladney said that under ''the'' in Webster's (and Merriam-Webster's) dictionaries, the etymology of the second definition is instrumental case form of the definite article.

Bruce Despain referred to Jesperson, telling me that Jesperson analyzed the ''the'' in ''the more the merrier'' not as an article, but as an earlier form of an adverb.

Thank you very much to all who responded for your help! I appreciate it very much,


Heather Lee Taylor
University of Maryland, College Park

LL Issue: 15.3150
Date Posted: 10-Nov-2004
Original Query: Read original query


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