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COMPARATIVE STRUCTURES IN ITALIAN Donna Jo NapoliMarina Nespor University ofMichiganUniversity ofAmsterdam Comparatives of inequality in Italian are introduced by di or che, have a degree or an absolute negative interpretation, and have a modifying or a balancing function. Comparative di phrases are PP's generated as daughters of VP's or of AP's with a degree interpretation; like other PP's, they can modify or balance two items. Comparative che is a coordinator. When it introduces daughters of VP's or AP's, it has a degree interpretation ; when it introduces a sister to S, it has an absolute negative interpretation. Because of the coordinating nature of che, it has only a balancing function.* Comparatives of inequality in Italian can be introduced either by di or by che:1 (1)Mi piacciono più le poésie dei romanzi2 ? like poems more than novels.' (2)Mi piacciono più le poésie che i romanzi. The choice between di and che is not free, however, since some comparatives may only have di, while others may only have che: (3)Dario è ancora più furbo {dil*che} Tommaso 'Darío is even more shrewd than Tommaso.' (4)Mangio più carne {che/*di} pesce ? eat more meat than fish.' A further difference between di and che comparatives is that, while certain di comparatives may be ambiguous as to the thematic role of the compared NP (the NP introduced by di), the corresponding che comparatives have only one interpretation. Thus, in 5, Luca may be interpreted as either the agent or the patient of amo; in 6, however, Luca may be interpreted only as patient: (5)Amo Marta più di Luca ? love Marta more than I love Luca' or ? love Marta more than Luca does.' (6)Amo Marta più che Luca ? love Marta more than I love Luca.' Finally, che comparatives may be interpreted in terms either of a degree or of an 'absolute negative',3 but di comparatives may have only a degree reading. * We thank Mauro Scorretti for useful discussions at an initial stage of this research, and Frank Casa, Anna Ferruzzi, Enzo Lo Cascio, and Claudio Mazzola for helping us as native speakers. We are also indebted to the University ofMichigan for the Rackham Grant to Augment International Academic Partnerships; without this financial help, the paper would not exist. A final thanks goes to Geoff Pullum for comments on an earlier draft. 1 The data presented in this paper are representative of standard Italian as spoken in the north of Italy. 2 Dei is the surface form of underlying di+i, where / is the plural masculine article. 3 Other terms have been used in the literature on comparatives for the interpretation that we call 'absolute negative'; thus Bolinger 1950, 1953 distinguishes between a 'degree' and an 'exclusivity ' reading, while Hellan 1981 uses the terms 'comparative' vs. 'metalinguistic' interpretation. Our terminology is intended to make clear that both types of comparatives have a quantifying function—the difference being whether the quantity has a value relative to something else in higher vs. lower degree, or a value relative to something else in presence vs. absence. 622 COMPARATIVE STRUCTURES IN ITALIAN623 Thus 6 above, unlike 5, may also mean ? love Marta rather than Luca.' We will account here both for the distribution of di and che in comparative constructions and for the interpretations that they allow. In §1, we deal with di comparatives; in §2, with the category of che. Our §3 is devoted to che comparatives with a degree reading, and §4 to che comparatives with an absolute negative reading. In §5, we offer concluding remarks. Dl COMPARATIVES 1.1. We wish to argue here that di is a preposition, and we present six arguments. First, Italian has a homophonous preposition which occurs independently of comparatives. Our hypothesis, then, consists simply of saying that the expression of degree is a use of this preposition. Our second argument is based on the distribution ofcomparative di: the types of phrases introduced by comparative di are all and only those introduced by the preposition di: NP's, infinitivals, adverbs with deictic value (e.g. ieri 'yesterday ', prima 'before'), and QP's.4 Examples of these structures with...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 622-653
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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