Comparative (Sub)deletion and Ranked, Violable Constraints in Syntax

This paper investigates the syntax of comparative deletion and comparative subdeletion and argues that the apparently paradoxical behavior of these two English comparative constructions can be explained by a simple distinction between overt and covert movement: comparative deletion involves overt movement of a compared phrase, while comparative subdeletion involves covert movement of the same element. This derivational difference is argued to follow from general constraints on the relation between movement and deletion in English in a model of syntax in which such constraints are ranked and violable. Finally, this approach is demonstrated to be superior to alternative analyses that do not make reference to ranked and violable constraints, and to receive independent support from the interaction of comparatives and VP-deletion.