Applicative comparison structures

Kertz, Laura laura_kertz at BROWN.EDU
Fri Dec 7 00:43:28 UTC 2012

Dear colleagues,

I am searching for examples of a type of comparative structure which seems
to be typologically rare but may simply be under-reported.

In this type of structure, an applicative marker on a verb or adjective
licenses an additional argument, which can be interpreted as a standard of
comparison. Because the applicative argument is a direct object, these
structures differ from the adverbial comparatives described by Stassen and
others (and are different again from particle comparatives, exceed
comparatives, and adversative/coordinate comparatives).  These have
received relatively little attention in large-scale surveys, but are noted
in Dixon 2008 and in a footnote in Bobaljik 2012.

This seems like a fairly natural way to form a comparative if a language
has a rich system of valence-altering verbal inflection and if the language
either lacks adjectives altogether or inflects adjectives in much the same
way as verbs. After much looking, however, I have turned up only a handful
of additional instances.

If you happen to know of a language that forms comparatives in this way, I
would appreciate hearing from you.  I am interested in any of the following
three subtypes (or others I may not have considered):
1) alternation between presposition incorporation and a case-marked oblique
2) homophonous/general purpose applicative marker (no alternation)
3) dedicated comparative applicative marker (no alternation)

Many thanks in advance,

Laura Kertz
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