Structure preservation in comparatives

Alexis Wellwood


Comparatives involve various dimensions for comparison, but not anything goes: "more coffee" involves volume or weight, but not temperature, while "more coffees" involves number, not volume or weight. In general, the extant literature assumes that the difference between "more coffee/coffees" reflects a morphosyntactic ambiguity of "more", such that it spells out MUCH-ER with bare nouns, and MANY-ER with plural nouns. Semantically, MUCH introduces a variable over measure functions (with constraints), whereas MANY introduces a cardinality function. I argue for an alternative, univocal theory based on the decomposition MUCH-ER, and account for the observed patterns of constrained variability by means of a stronger condition on the selection of measure functions than has previously been proposed.

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