Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

question about the degrees of the adjective

From:Christophe Grandsire <grandsir@...>
Date:Thursday, August 19, 1999, 7:07
Hello everybody,

        I am currently designing the morphology of the adjective for my New
Personal Conlang, and I was wondering how spread is the scale
positive-comparative-superlative in the languages of the world.

        All the languages I know have this scale, which can be implemented
differently in the syntactic level, but which always exist. For example:
- in French and in Spanish, comparative and superlative, whether of an
adjective or of a noun, is rendered by ways of adverbs, except for
irregular adjectives (bon, meilleur, for example),
- in English and all Germanic languages I know, comparative and
superlative are rendered by a particular form of the adjective (big,
bigger, the biggest) or by adverbs (more, most),
- In Japanese, the comparative is rendered using simply the adjective
with a complement using the postposition yori, whereas the superlative
is rendered with an adverb before the adjective,
- in Hawaian, I think the comparative is rendered in the same way as in
Japanese, but I'm not sure. At least, I'm sure there is a comparative.

        As you see, the idea of comparative (with different implementations,
and sometimes shifts in meaning, but not much) is present in all
languages I know of, even the most unrelated ones. What I wonder is if
there are languages that lack a comparative (or a superlative), or that
would use a different scale. I ask you that because I want to give
another scale of "comparison" to my adjectives.

        My idea is to add to the "positive" form (the adjective itself) an
"intensive" and an "absolutive" (nothing to do with the case). The
intensive serves to give more "intensity" to the meaning of the
adjective. For example, with the adjective "big", the intensive can
mean: very big, really big, huge, bigger, biggest, but the comparative
and superlative meanings (stretched into one form) are only consequences
and not basis of the real meaning of the intensive. On the other hand,
the absolutive serves also to give more "intensity" to the meaning of
the adjective, not in the sense of being more "important", but in the
sense of being "just that" and nothing else. SO the absolutive of "big"
can mean: big enough, simply big, not more than big, not huge (but not
small either), as big as (more exactly "at most as big as").

        You see, I want a system that is different from everything I know
(still in my idea of a "disturbing" language). But I still would like to
know if anyone knows a language that would use a system like mine, or at
least another system than the simple positive-comparative-superlative
one (I don't mean the case where comparative and superlative have the
same form, like in French, because it is just the same system with some
syntactical confusion). Thank you in advance.

        Christophe Grandsire

        Philips Research Laboratories --  Building WB 145
        Prof. Holstlaan 4
        5656 AA Eindhoven
        The Netherlands

        Phone:  +31-40-27-45006