Evaluativity and structural competition

Sophie Moracchini


In this paper, I develop an account of evaluativity in comparative constructions that improves upon Jessica Rett’s theory of evaluativity (2007, 2008). Rett proposes that evaluative interpretations result from the presence of a freely-occurring EVAL morpheme which introduces the reference to a contextual standard. According to Rett, whenever a degree construction is obligatorily evaluative, it is because its non-evaluative parse is blocked by a markedness competition. A limit of this proposal is that markedness comes as a stipulation. In this paper, I propose a principled way for generating competing candidates based on the structural complexity of aPs. I introduce the LF-principle Minimize aPs! that penalizes structurally complex degree expressions whenever they have semantically equivalent, yet structurally simpler counterparts. In addition, a PF-filter, Myers' Generalization, is argued to impose a wellformedness condition on morphologically complex expressions, thereby restricting further the set of competitors for semantic competition. The resulting picture regards the solution to the evaluativity puzzle as being at the crossroads of the different modules of the grammar.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v28i0.4410

Copyright (c) 2018 Sophie Moracchini