COMPARATIVE FORMATION IN DISYLLABIC ADJECTIVES ENDING IN /ɪ/
Keywords:synthetic comparison, analytic comparison, disyllabic adjectives, American English
The system of comparative and superlative formation in English relies on both synthetic
(i.e. inflectional) and analytic (i.e. periphrastic) means. Numerous studies have aimed at analyzing
the impact of the final -y in choosing a comparison strategy. Their main focus is on testing the
potential impact of a wide repertoire of the linguistic factors that were assumed to be relevant in
making such choices, but their samples were relatively limited in terms of specific groups of adjectives,
such as those ending in -y. (e.g. LEECH, CULPEPER 1997; LINDQUIST 2000; MONDORF
2009; GONZALEZ-DIAZ 2009). About 20 to 30 adjectives were subjected to the various analyses,
leaving most members bearing this feature excluded. This paper aims at revisiting comparative
formation strategies in disyllabic adjectives ending in // and does so by analyzing the prevalence
of both comparison strategies in 277 different lexemes. Drawing on techniques familiar from
quantitative morphological typology (GREENBERG 1960; SZMRECSANYI 2012, 2016), the
analysis uses syntheticity and analyticity indices as the main indicators of frequency of both free
(more) and bound (-er) comparative morphemes. The quantitative data are retrieved from Corpus
of Contemporary American English. The results demonstrate that disyllabic adjectives ending in /ɪ/
are not a uniform class. The attributed feature of being inclined toward synthetic comparison does
not apply to all members of this class or at least not to the expected level.
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