Fronter and Backer

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Jun 24 03:28:59 UTC 2002

At 9:25 PM -0700 6/21/02, Rudolph C Troike wrote:
>         I'd certainly say this in class, right along with higher and
>lower, but some intuition tells me I probably wouldn't write it, resorting
>instead to the awkward locution "further front" and "further back". I
>certainly could not bring myself to use "more front" or "more back". Larry
>will probably tell us that "front" and "back" are not gradable per se. It
>is interesting that one dimension would be gradadable and another not.
>Thanks for bringing this to our attention (it's always interesting how
>out-of-awareness so much of language is, even for linguists).
>         Rudy
>P.S. I do use (in class) Haj Ross' famous "squish" comparisons: some words
>are nounier and other words are verbier.

and some adjectives are gradabler than others

In principle, "front" and "back" SHOULD be gradable for vowels, but
as you say they don't seem to be--"How front/back was that /a/?"
sounds as weird as the analytic and synthetic comparatives above.  I
share Rudy's judgments and usage patterns, I think.


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