The subjective mode of comparison: Metalinguistic comparatives in greek and korean
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In this paper, we present a striking parallel between Greek and Korean in the formation and interpretation of metalinguistic comparatives. The initial observation is that both languages show an empirical contrast between “regular” comparative and metalinguistic comparative realized in (a) the form of a designated metalinguistic comparative MORE; and (b) in the form of THAN employed. We propose (building on our earlier analyses in Giannakidou and Stavrou 2009, Giannakidou and Yoon 2009) that the metalinguistic comparative is perspectival, i.e. it introduces the point of view of an individual towards a sentence, and argue that the individual expresses invariably an attitude of preference: she prefers one sentence (the sentence itself, or the proposition it expresses) in a given context over another. The preference may come out as completely negative in certain cases, and this is manifested as yet another lexicalization in Korean (charari), which selects nuni-THAN, which itself carries a negative expressive index (in the sense of Potts 2007), we will claim. Expressive negativity is not equivalent to negation in syntax, as nuni alone cannot license NPIs that need negation. If our analysis is correct, it has one important implication that goes beyond just the metalinguistic comparatives in the individual languages we are considering. It allows the generalization that metalinguistic functions in language are indeed part of the grammar. In particular, they are reflexes of grammaticalization of perspective and subjective mode, on a par with predicates of personal taste discussed by Lasersohn 2005, 2008, 2009, mood choice, and similar phenomena. In comparatives, subjective mode is manifested as an ordering of preference.
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