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Re: Degrees of adjectives

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Friday, February 4, 2005, 7:47
On Thursday, February 3, 2005, at 05:35 , Muke Tever wrote:

> Peter Bleackley <Peter.Bleackley@...> wrote: >> I'm NOMAIL at the moment, so please reply to this personally. >> >> Are there standard linguistic terms for degrees of adjectives that >> express >> "less" and "least"? > > Do they even occur in natl-- (ahaha, silly question. of course > they have to, somewhere). > > Well, I don't know of any standard terms.
The only ones I know are comparative and superlative of inferiority.
> But this is CONLANG, so > I won't be daunted from making some up :p > > (given) X is adj (positive) > X is adjer than Z (comparative) > X is adjest (superlative) > > (say) Z is not adj (negative, most likely) > Z is less adj than X (anticomparative?[1])
But Z is still being _compared_ with X so, strictly, it is still a comparative. Trask calls it 'comparative of inferiority' - a bit long-winded, I think.
> Z is least adj (antisuperlative?) > > On an etymological level, the "opposite" of |comparative| would > be *|separative|--"compare" being literally to bring together [such > as for the purpose of comparison],
Yes, but with "Z is less adj than X" Z and X are still being brought together for comparison. There's no separation. Maybe "inferiorative"?
> and of |superlative|, *|sublative|, > but that's perhaps a little silly.
the main problem with 'sublative' is that those who know any Latin will know that _sublatum_ is the supine of _sufferre_ "to suffer" which is the wrong meaning. In any case, while _sub_ may be the opposite of _super_, we need also an opposite of _ferre ~ latum_. In fact in Latin the opposite of _superferre_ is _subicere_ and that would give the English "subjective", which is a very good formation but unfortunately has acquired a quite different meaning :) But to continue the idea of 'inferiority', the Latin superlative corresponding to the comparative _inferior_ is _infimus_ - so "infimative" ?
> *Muke! > [1] There actually is a ghit for 'anticomparative' in this sense; > someone's conlang uses it: > > They use "antiultimate" for *antisuperlative though, just as they > use 'ultimate' for 'superlative'.)
Why 'ultimate' for 'superlative', I wonder. If, as Muke guesses, there are actually natlangs with 'degrees of inferiority' which contrast with 'degrees of superiority' there much surely be terms used in describing those langs. Do any of our professional linguists know them? There is another degree that is found in the Insular Celtic langs (a feature which AFAIK they do _not_ share with the Semitic langs!) and that is the _equative_: as X is as adj as Z. Cf. Welsh: cryf (strong) cryfed (as strong [as]) cryfach (stronger) cryfa (strongest) da (good) cystal (as good [as]) gwell (better) gorau (best) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]


Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>
Muke Tever <hotblack@...>