Chapter published in:All Things Morphology: Its independence and its interfaces
Edited by Sedigheh Moradi, Marcia Haag, Janie Rees-Miller and Andrija Petrovic
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 353] 2021
► pp. 199–214
Competition in comparatives
A look at Romance scenarios
This chapter provides an initial exploration of the phenomenon of competition in comparatives in Romance languages. Latin had both synthetic and periphrastic comparatives, whose distribution was phonologically conditioned. Romance languages have generalized the periphrastic construction to all adjectives, but have also often inherited continuants of all or some of the four synthetic suppletive comparatives melior “better”, peior “worse”, māior “bigger”, minor “smaller”. Therefore, in the evolution from Latin to Romance languages, the stage is set for competition between synthetic and analytic constructions, such as Italian migliore vs. più buono “better”. This chapter discusses the solutions found in different Romance languages, as explained in descriptive grammars and other works. These solutions span from extinction of the synthetic suppletive forms altogether, to blocking of the analytic construction when the synthetic one is available, to overabundance between synthetic and analytic forms, to the creation of niches in which the two constructions distribute differentially. A corpus-based pilot study of Italian suggests a fruitful way to uncover such niches.
Keywords: comparative, suppletive comparative, synthetic comparative, analytic comparative, competition, niche, Romance languages, migliore , più buono
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