This chapter provides an initial exploration of the phenomenon of competition in comparatives in Romance languages. Latin had both synthetic and periphrastic comparatives, whose distribution was phonologically conditioned. Romance languages have generalized the periphrastic construction to all adjectives, but have also often inherited continuants of all or some of the four synthetic suppletive comparatives melior "better", peior "worse", māior "bigger", minor "smaller". Therefore, in the evolution from Latin to Romance languages, the stage is set for competition between synthetic and analytic constructions, such as Italian migliore vs. piu buono "better". This chapter discusses the solutions found in different Romance languages, as explained in descriptive grammars and other works. These solutions span from extinction of the synthetic suppletive forms altogether, to blocking of the analytic construction when the synthetic one is available, to overabundance between synthetic and analytic forms, to the creation of niches in which the two constructions distribute differentially. A corpus-based pilot study of Italian suggests a fruitful way to uncover such niches.

Competition in comparatives: A look at Romance scenarios

Thornton A. M.
2021

Abstract

This chapter provides an initial exploration of the phenomenon of competition in comparatives in Romance languages. Latin had both synthetic and periphrastic comparatives, whose distribution was phonologically conditioned. Romance languages have generalized the periphrastic construction to all adjectives, but have also often inherited continuants of all or some of the four synthetic suppletive comparatives melior "better", peior "worse", māior "bigger", minor "smaller". Therefore, in the evolution from Latin to Romance languages, the stage is set for competition between synthetic and analytic constructions, such as Italian migliore vs. piu buono "better". This chapter discusses the solutions found in different Romance languages, as explained in descriptive grammars and other works. These solutions span from extinction of the synthetic suppletive forms altogether, to blocking of the analytic construction when the synthetic one is available, to overabundance between synthetic and analytic forms, to the creation of niches in which the two constructions distribute differentially. A corpus-based pilot study of Italian suggests a fruitful way to uncover such niches.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/185803
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