Hypercomparatives

Synthese 111 (1):97-114 (1997)
Abstract
In natural language we rarely use relation-words with more than three argument places. This paper studies one systematic device, rooted in natural language, by which relations of greater adicity can be expressed. It is based on a higher-order relation between 1-place, 2-place, and 4-place relations (and so on) of which the relation between the positive and comparative degrees of a predicate is a special case. Two formal languages are presented in this connection, one of which represents the language of communication and the other the contextual information against which the first language is interpreted. A semantical theory is described, which treats the two languages in an interdependent way. Logical consequence is non-compact. Connections with issues about vagueness are made.
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