16 October 2011

Roger Schwarzschild gives department colloq on Friday

Roger Schwarzschild of Rutgers University will present the department colloquium this Friday at 3:30 in Machmer E-37.  A title and abstract follow.

Quantifier Domain Adverbials, Semantic Change and the Comparative

The sentence “Jack is more anxious than Jill” is a comparative.  We know that because of the presence of “more” as well as the presence of “than”.   Across the world’s languages, there are expressions of the comparative that lack a morpheme comparable to “more”  (comparative marker) and there are some that lack a morpheme comparable to “than” (standard marker).   From this perspective, the comparative seems to be redundantly marked in the English example. 

Where is the meaning of the comparative localized, in the more-word?  in the than-word?  in both? Is there a dependency between the grammar of the than-word in a given language and its use of a more-word (Stassen 1985)?

What is the process by which languages acquire a more-word over time?

In this talk, I will be looking at expressions of the comparative in Modern Hebrew.  I’ll propose an analysis that makes use of Quantifier Domain Adverbialization.  In this analysis, both the more-word and the than-word are meaningful. The phrase headed by the than-word can function as a Quantifier-Domain Adverbial whereby it comments on the domain of the degree quantifier more. I’ll address the questions raised above through the lens of the proposed analysis.