We observe that superlatives inside nominal phrases (the most/best books) allow a reading in Slavic that is absent in English. The same variation is found within Slavic as well, where the relevant reading is constrained by the presence of the definite article. To account for the empirical observation, we propose that English -est is interpreted inside definite-marked nominal phrases, while its Slavic counterpart naj- may QR out of indefinite nominal phrases. The relevant readings require focus, but DP-internal -est cannot associate with DP-internal focus. Our account suggests that superlative -est and naj- are degree quantifiers, and that they are focus sensitive; both issues are the subject of debate. Finally, definite nominal phrases are islands for degree movement.
Proceedings of the 30th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Nathan Arnett and Ryan Bennett Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-454-6 library binding
v + 334 pages
publication date: 2012
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA