Times as degrees: Früh(er) 'early(er)' , spät(er) 'late(r)', and phase adverbs

There is a rich literature about the temporal conjunctions before/after, but at the time I gave the talk that underlies this paper I was not aware of any analysis of the temporal comparatives früher/später ‘earlier/later’, which may be used to express similar states of affairs, but are constructed differently.2 Recently I got acquainted with the del Prete’s thesis about It. prima/dopo, which analyses prima as a comparative and dopo as a preposition.3 This is the only paper known to me that goes into the same direction as the following proposal. Del Prete’s analysis is very different from mine and I must leave the discussion of his theory to another occasion. The semantics of before/after is notoriously controversial and the semantics of the related adjectives is therefore interesting in itself. A study of the adjectives gains additional interest from the fact that they are entirely differently constructed: they are degree adjectives and have a comparative, an equative and a positive variant. I will study each of them.
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