An intricate range of facts involving binding constraints, ellipsis, and scopal interactions indicate that the surface position of the standard constituent in English comparatives (the than-phrase) marks the scope of comparison. Previous analyses are forced to posit complex mechanisms for linking the interpretation of the comparative morpheme more/-er to that of the standard constituent. We show that the same results can be derived under a much more direct mapping between the surface syntax and the semantic interpretation. Crucial to our analysis is the hypothesis that both the comparative morpheme more/-er and the standard morpheme than contribute to the semantics of comparison. We go on to show how this hypothesis may shed light on certain cross-linguistic generalizations concerning the expression of comparison.
Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Nathan Arnett and Ryan Bennett
Table of contents