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Re: Degrees of adjectives

From:Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>
Date:Saturday, February 5, 2005, 6:53
On 5 Feb 2005, at 12.41 pm, # 1 wrote:

> caeruleancentaur wrote: > >> Attributively: >> "I prefer the sweeter (la más dulce) drink of the two." >> "I prefer the sweetest (la más dulce) drink of the three." >> Need for the definite article with both. They are exactly the same >> in Spanish (and in French?). > > Ha? "I prefer the sweeter" means that there are only two compared to > each > other and "I prefer the sweatest" means that there are more... > > > If "I prefer the sweeter" can be said, may it be replaced by "I prefer > the > more sweet" > > It sounds so ungrammatical to me... am I wrong?
> Or a form ending in "-er" can not be replaced by a form with "more" > each > times?
The standard grammar says it's ungrammatical (most adjectives either take -er/-est or more/most; some can take either, like 'common'). It is, however, the fashion amongst younger people to conflate the two endings, so that you get any of: sweeter ~ more sweet ~ more sweeter as far as I can tell, they're all equivalent in this use. Presumably this is just another stage in English's conversion from postposed modifiers to preposed ones. (Note that while 'sweetest' and 'most sweet' are both valid in this non-standard use, I don't think 'most sweetest' is, but I could be wrong---I don't have the hang of this nonstandardism.)
> Anyway, I do not think that the distinction between "-er" and "-est" is > always redundant > > if the equivalent of "-er" and "-est" were something like "-ert" (a > mix...) > and that there doesn't need a definite article for the superlative: > > what would mean "that drink is sweetert"? > > would it be "that drink is sweeter (than another)" or "that drink is > the > sweetest"?
Well, if you did just say 'that drink is sweeter', then it means anyway 'that drink is the sweetest of the two'. There is a distinction however between 'that's one of the sweeter drinks' and 'that's one of the sweetest drinks'; the former is more general than the latter.
> these meaning are similar but if you have a few drinks it can be > different > > if there are 3 drinks to compare: > > - You already tasted the three drinks. What do you think of that first > drink? > - Not very sweet... > - OK, now what's about the second one? > - That drink is sweetert! > - Great, and the last one? > - That one is sweetert! > > As I understand it, he probably said that the 1st is not sweet, that > the 2nd > is sweeter and that the 3rd is the sweetest but it's not sure he could > have > said that the 2nd is the sweetest but he changed his mind and said > that the > last one were much sweeter.
Well anyway, if it's a simple comparison (sweeter) it doesn't need an article, but if it's an absolute comparison (sweetest) it does: You'd be saying 'that one is sweetert' vs 'that one is the sweetert', so, as Charlie says, you don't really need a distinction in the morpheme.
> I think that if the comparative and the superlative are the same it > leads to > too much ambiguity... don't you think?
Only when your trying to discuss your two younger brothers without using their names! (Another case when a distinction is handy: My younger brother's name is Lachlan, but my youngest brother's name is Kieran.) -- Tristan.


Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>