Measuring Cardinalities: Evidence from Differential Comparatives in French
Vincent Homer, Rajesh Bhatt
February 2019

We show that comparatives of cardinality (e.g. 'more books') are special: cardinality differs from other dimensions, e.g. tallness, in that it can only be measured out using strictly numerical measures. Our primary data in this paper comes from nominal comparatives in French, e.g. 'plus de livres' 'more books' (where one compares numbers of books): certain differentials cannot straightforwardly combine with the degree head 'plus'. Those are numerically quantified noun phrases (Num NP), for example 'trois livres' 'three books', which cannot combine with the degree head in a nominal comparative the same way that measure phrases, e.g. 'trois centim├Ętres' 'three centimeters', combine with the degree head in adjectival comparatives. We derive the inability of Num NP differentials to combine with nominal comparatives from the fact that nominal cardinality comparatives degree quantify over pure cardinalities while Num NP only gives cardinalities of NP. We also show how French circumvents the problem of combining Num NP with the degree head 'plus' by resorting to a special structure, signaled by the presence of the preposition 'de' before 'plus', where the differential is a verb argument.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004485
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted
keywords: french, degree, comparative, differential, cardinality, measure phrases, semantics, syntax
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