, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 65-100
Date: 16 Jun 2009

Yori-comparatives: A reply to Beck et al. (2004)

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Abstract

This paper investigates the syntax and semantics of the Japanese comparative construction that utilizes yori ‘than’, which functionally corresponds to the English more-comparative. While endorsing Beck et al.’s (J East Asian Linguist 13: 289–344, 2004) general claim that yori-comparatives cannot be analyzed on a par with the English comparative, the paper points out the problems associated with their analysis. Among the points the paper maintains in contrast with Beck et al. (J East Asian Linguist 13: 289–344, 2004) are (i) the denotation of the complement of yori is a degree, an individual, or a proposition, and (ii) yori-phrases take a gradable predicate as their argument; thus yori-phrases participate in the semantic composition of the matrix clause. In describing the difference between English and Japanese regarding the phenomena involving gradable predicates, the paper advocates Snyder et al.’s (Proceedings of the Thirteenth West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 1994) hypothesis that AdjPs in Japanese lack the specifier position that hosts a degree variable or constant (cf. Fukui, A theory of category projection and its applications. Doctoral dissertation, 1986), dispensing with Beck et al.’s Degree Abstraction Parameter.