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The role of processing constraints on the choice between synthetic and analytic comparative forms

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Abstract

This book provides the most comprehensive account so far of novel and hitherto unexplained factors operative in the choice between synthetic (<i>prouder</i>) and analytic (<i>more proud</i> ) comparatives. It argues that the underlying motivation in using the analytic variant is to mitigate processing demands – a compensatory strategy referred to as <i>more</i> -support. The analytic variant is claimed to be better suited to environments of increased processing complexity – presumably owing to its ability to facilitate early phrase structure recognition, the more transparent one-to-one relation between form and function and possibly because the degree marker <i>more</i> can serve as a structural signal foreshadowing cognitive complexity. A bird’s eye view of 24 determinants reveals that the processing effort which triggers the analytic comparative emanates from structures that are phonologically, morphologically, syntactically, lexically, semantically or pragmatically complex. By bridging the gap between corpus-based variation research and psycholinguistic and typological approaches, the book breaks new ground in uncovering the functional motivation behind the continued variability of synthetic-analytic contrasts.

Subjects: English linguistics; Sociolinguistics and Dialectology; Morphology; Historical linguistics; Psycholinguistics

  • Affiliations: 1: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz

References

http://jbenjamins.metastore.ingenta.com/content/books/9789027289278
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