No More Shall We Part: Quantifiers in English Comparatives

Peter Alrenga and Christopher Kennedy

It is well-known that the interpretation of quantificational expressions in the comparative clause poses a serious challenge for semantic analyses of the English comparative. In this paper, we develop a new analysis of the comparative clause designed to meet this challenge, in which a silent occurrence of the negative degree quantifier NO (observed overtly in collocations like no more, no greater, etc.) interacts with other quantificational expressions to derive the observed range of interpretations. Although our analysis incorporates ideas from previous analyses (in particular, negation and maximality based analyses of the comparative clause), we show that it is able to account for a broader range of facts than other approaches, with a minimum of construction-specific stipulations. We demonstrate that the analysis can be embedded within a general syntactic and semantic architecture for the comparative, and although our analysis focuses on the English data, we demonstrate its potential for cross-linguistic application. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our approach for the analysis of "split-scope" phenomena in nominal quantification.