Superlatives at the Interface of Syntax and Semantics
of Southern California
2012, Paris, 14 – 16 September 2012
There has been a lasting interest in the grammar of comparatives
and superlatives within the generative tradition, partly because languages
employ a great variety of degree expressions that need to map to consistent
meanings, but also because the grammar of comparison subsumes a number of
key phenomena such as quantification, wh-movement,
ellipsis resolution, focus interpretation, NPI licensing. This seminar
examines some of the issues and results in comparatives and superlatives,
primarily from the perspective of how their syntax and semantics interface,
and with the goal of stimulating cross-linguistic research in this domain.
Comparison across categories: the cast of characters.
Cross-linguistic variation in the syntax of comparatives. Brief overview
of the semantics of gradable adjectives, measurement and comparison.
Semantic parallels between comparison of individuals and events.
The architecture of comparatives and superlatives. QR of -er:
scope ambiguities and ellipsis resolution. QR of -est: superlative ambiguities.
Individual and degree comparison; direct and reduction
analyses of phrasal comparatives.
Beck, S. (2011) "Comparison
Constructions". C. Maienborn, K. von Heusinger and P. Portner
(eds.): Semantics: An International Handbook
of Natural Language Meaning. Bd. 2. Berlin (u.a.): De Gruyter Mouton, 1341-1389. [paper]
Schwarzschild, R. (2008). “The Semantics of
Comparatives and other Degree Constructions” Language and
Linguistics Compass 2.2: 308–331. [paper]
Wellwood, A., V. Hacquard, and R. Pancheva (2012).
“Measuring and Comparing Individuals and Events” Journal of Semantics 29, 207-228. [paper]
Corver, N. (2005). “Comparative Deletion and Subdeletion”
In M. Everaert and H. van Riemsdijk (eds). The
Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Blackwell Publishing, 2005. [paper]
Heim, I. (2000). “Degree Operators and
Scope,” in Proceedings of SALT 10, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY, Cornell Linguistics Club, 40–64. [paper]
Pancheva, R. and B. Tomaszewicz (to
appear). “Cross-Linguistic Differences in Superlative Movement out of
Nominal Phrases” WCCFL 30. [paper]
Kennedy, C. (2007). “Modes of Comparison”
Proceedings of Chicago Linguistic Society 43. [paper]
Bhatt, R. and S. Takahashi (2011). “Reduced
and Unreduced Phrasal Comparatives” Natural
Language and Linguistic Theory 29, 581-620. [paper]
Pancheva, R. (2010). “More Students Attended FASL than CONSOLE”
In W. Browne, A. Cooper, A. Fisher, E. Kesici,
N. Predolac, D. Zec
(eds.) Formal Approaches to Slavic Linguistics: The Cornell Meeting,
Lechner, W. (2001). “Reduced and Phrasal Comparatives”. Natural
Language and Linguistic Theory 19, 4, 683-735. [paper]
Additional references: (more to be added…)
Arnim von Stechow’s
EALING 2008 course on Degree Semantics (and Syntax): [link]
Bhatt, R. and R. Pancheva (2004). “Late
Merger of Degree Clauses” Linguistic Inquiry 35, 1-45.[paper]
Bresnan, J. (1973). “The
Syntax of the Comparative Clause Construction in English,” Linguistic
Inquiry 4, 275–343. [paper]
Kennedy, C. (2006).
“Comparatives, Semantics of” In K. Allen (section editor) Lexical
and Logical Semantics; Encyclopedia of Language and
Linguistics, 2nd Edition, Elsevier, Oxford. [paper]
O’Connor, E. (2012). “A Clausal Analysis of
Dari and Tajik Phrasal Comparatives” NELS 41. [paper]
Y. and P. Stateva (2002). “Superlative
Expressions, Context, and Focus.” Linguistics and Philosophy 25,