Adjective, it's types and categories — страница 6

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Russian. Latin, or German)? If we take, for example, the three fоrms of an English adjective: large, larger, (the) largest, shall we say that they are all three of them, degrees of comparison? In that case we ought to term them positive, comparative, and superlative. Or shall we sау that only the latter two are degrees of comparison (comparative, and superlative), whereas the first (large) does not express any idea of comparison and is therefore not a degree of comparison at all? Both views have found their advocates in grammatical theоry. Now, if we define a degree оf соmparisоn as а form expressing соmparisоn of one object or objects with another in respect of a certain property, it would seem that the first of the three forms (large) shоuld not be inс1uded, as it

does nоt express any соmparisоn. Then we should have only twо degrees of comparisоn larger, (the) largest, and a form standing apart, coinciding with the stem from which the degrees of comparison are formed, and which may be described as the basic form.3 4. Degrees of Comparison of Adjectives The category is constituted by the opposition of the three forms known under the heading of degrees of comparison: the basic form (positive degree), having no features of comparison; the comparative degree form, having the feature of restricted superiority (which limits the comparison to two elements only); the superlative degree form, having the feature of unrestricted superiority. It should be noted that the meaning of unrestricted superiority is in-built in the superlative degree as

such, though in practice this form is used in collocations imposing certain restrictions on the effected comparison; thus, the form in question may be used to signify restricted superiority, namely, in cases where a limited number of referents are compared. Cf.: Johnny was the strongest boy in the company. As is evident from the example, superiority restriction is shown here not by the native meaning of the superlative, but by the particular contextual construction of comparison where the physical strength of one boy is estimated in relation to that of his companions. Some linguists approach the number of the degrees of comparison as problematic on the grounds that the basic form of the adjective does not express any comparison by itself and therefore should be excluded from the

category. This exclusion would reduce the category to two members only, i.e. the comparative and superlative degrees. However, the oppositional interpretation of grammatical categories underlying our considerations does not admit of such an exclusion; on the contrary, the non-expression of superiority by the basic form is understood in the oppositional presentation of comparison as a pre-requisite for the expression of the category as such. In this expression of the category the basic form is the unmarked member, not distinguished by any comparison suffix or comparison auxiliary, while the superiority forms (i.e. the comparative and superlative) are the marked members, distinguished by the comparison suffixes or comparison auxiliaries. That the basic form as the positive degree

of comparison does express this categorical idea, being included in one and the same allegorical series with the superiority degrees, is clearly shown by its actual uses in comparative syntactic constructions of equality, as well as comparative syntactic constructions of negated equality. Cf.: The remark was as bitter as could be. The Rockies are not so high as the Caucasus. These constructions are directly correlative with comparative constructions of inequality built around the comparative and superlative degree forms. Cf.: That was the bitterest remark I have ever heard from the man. The Caucasus is higher than the Rockies. Thus, both formally and semantically, the oppositional basis of the category of comparison displays a binary nature. In terms of the three degrees of

comparison, on the upper level of presentation the superiority degrees as the marked member of the opposition are contrasted against the positive degree as its unmarked member. The superiority degrees, in their turn, form the opposition of the lower level of presentation, where the comparative degree features the functionally weak member, and the superlative degree, respectively, the strong member. The whole of the double oppositional unity, considered from the semantic angle, constitutes a gradual ternary opposition. The synthetical forms of comparison in – er and – (e) st coexist with the analytical forms of comparison effected by the auxiliaries more and most. The analytical forms of comparison perform a double function. On the one hand, they are used with the evaluative