Friday, September 2, 2016

Detail #307: Verbs having Comparative Function

Consider having verb forms for comparing NPs. In essence:
John builds good things, but Eric builds better things
gives us
John builds good things, but Eric build-COMPARATIVE-s things
However, this gets a tad unwieldy: we may want some slightly more succinct way of formulating this.
John well-builds things but Eric build-COMP-s
Let us go on to consider
John builds good houses, but he builds better boats
reusing the same pattern as we first saw:
John builds good houses, but he build-COMP-s boats
we go on reducing it a bit, using a voice change to reduce the size of the comparative subclause:
John well-builds houses but boats build-COMP-passive-s
Once we've introduced the idea of using voices, we could of course also use some kind of antipassive for the first example:
John well-builds things but Eric builds-COMP-antipassive-s
Oftentimes, the objects will be similar (and we can just omit the object from the comparative verb), so we'll let transitive verbs with the comparative marker default to antipassive voice. We could here, of course, consider some more complicated comparisons we may need:
There's more water in the Atlantic than in lake Winnipeg

Water is in lake Winnipeg but (it) be-COMP-?-s in the Atlantic
We may benefit from some general applicative/circumstantial voice here as well.  I will, for now, leave that as an exercise for the diligent reader. (Hint: I think I can get two posts out of this idea.)

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