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Comparatives: was: Re: I came in late.

From:Boudewijn Rempt <bsarempt@...>
Date:Sunday, July 25, 1999, 13:27
On Sat, 24 Jul 1999, Nik Taylor wrote:

> Boudewijn Rempt wrote: > > I've been looking around for information, but I couldn't find anything > > directly relating to this. Somewhere in the attics of my mind hovers a > > quote about some C19 Englishman who dismissed 'primitive' languages for > > not having comparatives, but that's all. > > Well, I suspect that those "primitive" languages simply didn't have a > morphological comparative. I've read that, for instance, Quechua uses a > verb meaning something like "to surpass" to indicate comparative. I > don't know how it's used, my source didn't explain it. I think it's > something like "he is old surpassing me" for "He is older than me". I > don't see how a language could have NO way of indicating more and less > of a quality. >
That's probably the point. Since my half-forgotten source is so ancient, he wouldn't have regarded a non-morphological comparative as a comparative. I'd really doubt any statement that there are languages that can't compare attributes either qualitatively or quantitatively. Denden doesn't have a morphological comparative, but uses a construction with _tan_ instead: Hamal tan Rorayal taret Hamal TAN Rorayal rich 'Hamal is richer than Rorayal' (Perhaps literally: Hamal is, compared to Rorayal, rich.) Hamal tan Rorayal logh taret Hamal TAN Rorayal like rich Hamal is as rich as Rorayal One of the indications that Denden is a post-Creole, as Irina has suggested before, is not only the broad range of meanings of _tan_ (cf. Holm 1988:73), but also the very free word-order, so the following is equivalent to the above: Hamal tan Rorayal taret logh Hamal TAN Rorayal rich like Hamal is as rich as Rorayal. --- Holm, John. 1988. _Pidgins and Creoles_, Volume I: Theory and Structure. Cambridge: Cambridge Universty Press. Boudewijn Rempt |