Next: Propositional Comparatives
A metalinguistic comparison can be performed on basically all of the
predicational categories--adjectives, verb phrases, prepositional
phrases, and nouns--as in the following examples:
- The table is more long than wide. (AP)
- Clark more makes the rules than follows them. (VP)
- Calvin is more in the living room than in the kitchen. (PP)
- That unindentified amphibian in the bush is more frog than toad, I would say. (NP)
At present, we only deal with the adjectival metalinguistic
comparatives as in ((395)). The analysis given here for these can
be easily extended to prepositional phrases and nominal comparatives of
the metalinguistic sort, but, as with coordination in XTAG, verb
phrases will prove more difficult.
Adjectival comparatives appear to distribute with simple adjectives,
as in the following examples:
- Herbert is more livid than angry.
- Herbert is more livid and furious than angry.
- The more innovative than conventional medication cured everyone in the sick ward.
- The elephant, more wobbly than steady, fell from the circus ball.
Tree for Metalinguistic Adjective Comparative: ARBaPa
This patterning indicates that we can give these comparatives a tree
that adjoins quite freely onto adjectives, as in
Figure 22.1. This tree is anchored by more/less - than. To avoid grammatically incorrect comparisons such as more brighter than dark, the feature compar is used to block this
tree from adjoining onto morphologically comparative adjectives. The
foot node is compar-, while brighter and its comparative
siblings are compar+22.1. We also wish to block
strings like more brightest than dark, which is accomplished
with the feature super, indicating superlatives. This feature
is negative at the foot node so that ARBaPa cannot adjoin to
superlatives like nicest, which are specified as super+
from the morphology. Furthermore, the root node is super+ so that ARBaPa cannot adjoin onto itself and produce
monstrosities such as ((403)):
- *Herbert is more less livid than angry than furious.
Thus, the use of the super feature is less to indicate
superlativeness specifically, but rather to indicate that the subtree
below a super+ node contains a full-fleshed comparison. In the
case of lexical superlatives, the comparison is against everything,
A benefit of the multiple-anchor approach here is that we will never
allow sentences such as ((404)), which would be permissible if we
split the comparative component and the than component of
metalinguistic comparatives into two separate trees.
- *Ronaldo is angrier than upset.
We also see another variety of adjectival comparatives of the form more/less than X, which indicates some property which is more or less
extreme than the property X. In a sentence such as ((405)),
some property is being said to hold of Francis such that it is of a
kind with stupid and that it exceeds stupid on some scale
(intelligence, for example). Quirk et al. also note that these
constructions remark on the inadequacy of the lexical item. Thus, in
((404)), it could be that stupid is a starting point from which
the speaker makes an approximation for some property which the speaker
feels is beyond the range of the English lexicon, but which expresses
the supreme lack of intellect of the individual it is predicated of.
- Francis is more than stupid.
- Romario is more than just upset.
Taking our inspiration from ARBaPa, we can handle these
comparatives, which have the same distribution but contain an empty
adjective, by using the tree shown in Figure 22.2.
Tree for Adjective-Extreme Comparative: ARBPa
This sort of metalinguistic comparative also occurs with the verb
phrase, prepositional phrase, and noun varieties.
- Clark more than makes the rules. (VP)
- Calvin's hands are more than near the cookie jar. (PP)
- That stuff on her face is more than mud. (NP)
Presumably, the analysis for these would parallel that for
adjectives, though it has not yet been implemented.
Next: Propositional Comparatives