English comparatives as degree-phrase relative clauses

Richard Thomas McCoy


It has been observed (e.g. Chomsky 1977) that English questions allow wh-movement of adjective phrases, but relative clauses do not, which is cited as a notable difference between two types of constructions that are otherwise very similar. However, I argue that relative clauses actually can arise from the whmovement of adjective phrases (which I here treat as degree phrases headed by a degree element) and that comparative clauses are the result; i.e., comparatives are actually relative clauses headed by degree phrases. This analysis removes the discrepancy between questions and relative clauses with regard to adjective movement, thereby further uniting the syntactic analysis of the two constructions.


comparatives; relative clauses; wh-movement; English syntax

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v2i0.4078

Copyright (c) 2017 Richard Thomas McCoy

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