Comparative morphemes are additive particles: English -er/more vs. Chinese gèng
Linmin Zhang, Florence Zhang
May 2024

In this paper, by zooming into the components of comparison (i.e., the target, the standard, and their difference), we have demonstrated a new perspective on cross-linguistic universals and variation on comparison expressions. We have shown that comparison is universally performed by gradable adjectives. Gradable adjectives like "tall" and "short" differ with regard to their direction. Languages with vs. without morphemes like "-er/more" differ with regard to whether gradable adjectives encode, by default, the meaning of non-strict vs. strict inequality. Based on this understanding of comparison, we have discussed the semantic contribution of cross-linguistic particles used in comparatives, focusing on English "-er/more" and Chinese "gèng". We analyze them as two kinds of additive particles: (i) English "-er/more" is similar to "another", while (ii) Chinese "gèng" is similar to "moreover". Thus the current work also connects the notion of scalarity (or comparison along a scale with ordering) with the notion of additivity.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008122
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted to Anastasiia Vyshnevska (ed.), Generative Perspectives on Degrees.
keywords: measurement, comparison, gradable adjectives, comparatives, differentials/differences, comparative morpheme -er/more, measurement constructions, positive use of gradable adjectives, scales, degrees, intervals, orderings, interval arithmetic, interval subtraction, degree questions, scalarity, additivity, anaphoricity, informativeness, chinese gèng, japanese motto, chinese hái, semantics
previous versions: v2 [May 2024]
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