How speakers select synthetic and analytic forms of English comparatives: An experimental study

Naomi Enzinna


This research examines the influence of prosodic shape, token frequency, and recency on comparative form preferences in English. To examine this, participants completed an unprimed and a primed forced-choice acceptability-judgment task. While the unprimed study’s results show that comparative form selection is largely influenced by an adjective’s prosodic shape and token frequency, the primed study shows that recency also plays a role in comparative form selection. More specifically, when primed with a synthetic comparative, participants were less likely to choose the comparative form that the adjective typically occurs in. These results are paralleled by the reaction time results, suggesting that recency of a synthetic comparative may cause either a facilitatory or inhibitory effect when selecting a comparative form.


comparatives; prosodic shape; frequency; recency; priming

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