Relative readings of superlatives: Scope or focus?

Barbara Maria Tomaszewicz


I provide an analysis of the relative readings of superlatives on which the superlative morpheme -est is more constrained at LF than previously argued, yet the range of superlative readings available cross-linguistically is still accounted for. I argue that -est scopes outside the superlative DP only when necessary. I also provide empirical arguments that the focus structure of the sentence must be included in the LF representation of relative readings. In English, where -est only scopes DP-internally, we correctly predict the optionality of focus for relative readings. In Polish, where -est can also scope DP-externally, focus can be obligatory to disambiguate between the different LFs.

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