Little Words: Their History, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics, and Acquisition

By Ronald P. Leow; Héctor Campos et al. | Go to book overview

7
The Little DE of Degree Constructions

REMUS GERGEL

Universität Tübingen

THIS CHAPTER ANALYZES one function of the Romanian “little word” de. I claim that it serves as a morphosyntactic exponent in degree constructions. The first two sections illustrate problematic outcomes for a standard (universal) representation of degree constructions employing diagnostics used for example, in Beck, Oda, and Sugisaki (2004). The next two sections discuss the pertinent morphosyntactic properties of Romanian and the paradox arising from a positive setting for degrees as far as the basic morphological and syntactic facts of the language are concerned together with some apparent negative outcomes, for example, in questions and subcomparatives. The paradox is resolved in the penultimate section. I propose an analysis for the role of the morpheme de as an exponent inserted in the relevant degree constructions under a functional degree-sensitive head implemented here as Deg°. The final section analyzes an independent domain involving the adjectival de.


Degree Analysis(/es)—Essentials

This section introduces the minimal tenets of the standard representation of comparatives (and degree constructions more generally) that will be relevant in the discussion later. As there is a good deal of work supporting the view of degree representations in syntax-semantics for languages like English (cf. Kennedy 1999; Klein 1991; von Stechow 1984), we will not go into the details of the analysis of those languages. As we are concerned here with syntactic facts, we simply introduce one common analysis in this respect (following, e.g., Kennedy 1999, in main outline). A gradable adjective bears a relationship to a degree. The minimal assumption is that a degree element is a sister to a gradable adjective phrase (AP). In Kennedy's (1999) terms the adjective has an extended projection, a familiar pattern syntactically. One possibility, then, is (1).

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