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Re: Word orders in comparative constructions

From:Elliott Lash <erelion12@...>
Date:Thursday, December 11, 2008, 10:37
1. Does anyone know of any natlangs or conlangs with
a word order other than QMS or SMQ?

Not of the top of my head, no.

2. Does anyone know of a language where other
sentence constituents can or routinely do come between
the elements of the Q/M/S sequence?

Yes - Old Irish. In Old Irish the order is   COPULA Q SUBJECT M S :

is         sin-iu  in    fer    oldaas  a    ben
copula  old-er  the  man than     his  wife

'The man is older than his wife'

But, this isn't really suprising from a purely language internal point of view: all
copula sentences have this order:

is        sen in   fer
copula old  the man
'The man is old'

Interestingly, the marker of comparison, 'oldaas' is formed from 'ol' "beyond" + 'daas' "which is"

So comparative sentences really mean:

'Noun is ADJ-er beyond which is Noun'

Where 'which' can be interpreted like the following:

'Noun1 is bigger beyond the extent that Noun2 is.'

3. How does your conlang form explicit comparatives?

There are two ways in Silindion:


ë-an            i     nari më pant-io    natto-lim
be-PRS.3S  the bird this small-er  other-ABL
'This bird is smaller than the other.'


This construction is used when the comparative is better translated adverbially.  ul = 'beyond'

pur-o-ntë           la-yo              ta-lim        yova    phur-o-si           ul-o
speak-PRS-3P  good-COMP   which-ABL INAN.  speak-PRS-1S  beyond-it
'They speak better than I speak.'

This construction is a bit hard to parse into English, since when English
relativizing a prepositional phrase, it either places the whole phrase before
the verb:

'the place in which he was'

or it places the preposition at the end:

'the place which he was in'

it doesn't used a resumptive pronoun though, which is what Silindion does.

This construction really means:

'They speak better beyond which I speak'

where the 'beyond' prepositional phrase is relativized, but can't be placed before
the verb. Rather a resumptive pronoun must be used.