Morzycki, Marcin. 2013. ‘Comparatives and Their Kin’. This is a chapter of an in-preparation book to be called Modification (in the Cambridge University Press series Key Topics in Semantics an Pragmatics). The book is something between a textbook for people with a basic background in semantics and an introductory survey of work on the semantics of modification. More information about the whole project and additional chapters are also available. I’d really appreciate any feedback on this. BibTeX

This chapter examines the semantics of comparatives and their grammatical relatives, such as the equative, which positively bristle with subtle and often vexing puzzles. These puzzles provide insight into a surprisingly wide array of issues: the nature of comparison, of course, but also the ontology of degrees, scope taking mechanisms, ellipsis, negative polarity items, modality, focus, type-shifting, contextual domain restrictions, imprecision, and semantic crosslinguistic variation. This will also give us an opportunity to address the syntax of the extended AP in earnest for the first time. Section 2 confronts the mapping between syntax and semantics in the adjectival extended projection, with special attention to the comparative. Section 3 provides a tour of other degree constructions, including differential comparatives, equatives, superlatives, and others. Section 4 is the one most directly relevant to the puzzle we began the chapter with: the question of why the entailments of apparently very similar degree constructions differ subtly. Finally, section 5 concludes with a discussion of the crosslinguistic picture.

adjectives, comparatives, degree constructions, gradability, equatives, superlatives, degree modification, scope, variation