, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 427-454
Date: 07 Apr 2009

Comparative coordination vs. comparative subordination

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Abstract

The paper explores the syntax of comparatives in English and German. The account builds on the insight that the syntax of comparatives is a combination of coordination and subordination. At times a than-expression is coordinate to a string that immediately precedes it, and at other times, it is subordinate to it. Six key observations are the pillars of the account. These observations accomplish three goals: 1) They determine when comparative coordination obtains, as opposed to comparative subordination; 2) they predict the form that a particular than-expression can assume (e.g. phrasal, clausal); and most importantly, 3) they predict to a large extent the distribution of than-expressions. The key concept is functional equivalence. One can predict the distribution of many than-expressions by acknowledging where they can appear with respect to their functional equivalents. The theory-neutral account remains entirely in surface syntax.