Speaker: Jason Merchant
When: Friday, 3/30 at 3:30pm
Where: Education 433
Title: More comparatives than you can shake a stick at: The case of Greek
The syntax and semantics of comparatives are perennial topics of investigation not least because of the challenges they pose to usual assumptions about the syntax-semantics interface; more recently, their cross-linguistic properties have also begun to be the focus of attention. In this talk, I present the case of comparison in modern Greek, which has a richer set of comparative morphemes and standard-marking morphemes than any other language so far described in the literature: it has a synthetic comparative morpheme like English -er (-ter-), two analytic comparative morphemes (pjo and perisotero), and five different markers of the standard (Eng “than”; Greek “apo”, “apoti”, “para”, “ap’os-AGR”, and a genitive of comparison). Building on earlier work, I show that Greek has both fully and reduced clausal comparatives, necessitating a 2-place -er, as well as two phrasal comparatives: one marked by the preposition “apo”, and one by the genitive. These, I show, have different distributions, but can both be accommodated by a 3-place -er (derivable from the 2-place one): while the prepositional marker has an expected distribution, the genitive is curiously restricted: I argue that its properties follow if the genitive must be interpreted in situ, while the PP can undergo scopal displacement.