A New Standard of Comparison
Peter Alrenga, Christopher Kennedy, and Jason Merchant
Evidence from binding, ellipsis, and scope indicates that the surface position of the standard term in English comparatives (the than-phrase) marks the scope of comparison. Previous analyses invoke complex interpretive mechanisms to link more/-er with an extraposed standard. Underlying these mechanisms is the assumption that the semantics of comparison is solely introduced by more/-er. We propose instead to explain these facts with the following hypothesis: both the comparative morpheme and the standard encode the semantics of comparison. The resulting analysis provides a maximally transparent mapping from surface syntax to meaning, and has significant implications for our understanding of cross-linguistic variation in comparison constructions.
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