Adjective, it's types and categories — страница 7

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adjectives that, due to their phonemic structure (two-syllable words with the stress on the first syllable ending in other grapho-phonemic complexes than – er, – y, – le, – ow or words of more than two-syllable composition) cannot normally take the synthetical forms of comparison. In this respect, the analytical comparison forms are in categorial complementary distribution with the synthetical comparison forms. On the other hand, the analytical forms of comparison, as different from the synthetical forms, are used to express emphasis, thus complementing the synthetical forms in the sphere of this important stylistic connotation. Cf.: The audience became more and more noisy, and soon the speaker's words were drowned in the general hum of voices. The structure of the

analytical degrees of comparison is meaningfully overt; these forms are devoid of the feature of «semantic idiomatism» characteristic of some other categorial analytical forms, such as, for instance, the forms of the verbal perfect. For this reason the analytical degrees of comparison invite some linguists to call in question their claim to a categorial status in English grammar. In particular, scholars point out the following two factors in support of the view that the combinations of more/most with the basic form of the adjective are not the analytical expressions of the morphological category of comparison, but free syntactic constructions: first, the more/most-combinations are semantically analogous to combinations of less/least with the adjective which, in the general

opinion, are syntactic combinations of notional words; second, the most-combination, unlike the synthetic superlative, can take the indefinite article, expressing not the superlative, but the elative meaning (i.e. a high, not the highest degree of the respective quality). The reasons advanced, though claiming to be based on an analysis of actual lingual data, can hardly be called convincing as regards their immediate negative purpose. Let us first consider the use of the most-compilation with the indefinite article. This combination is a common means of expressing elative evaluations of substance properties. The function of the elative most-construction in distinction to the function of the superlative most-'construction will be seen from the following examples: The speaker

launched a most significant personal attack on the Prime Minister. The most significant of the arguments in a dispute is not necessarily the most spectacular one. While the phrase «a most significant (personal) attack» in the first of the two examples gives the idea of rather a high degree of the quality expressed irrespective of any directly introduced or implied comparison with other attacks on the Prime Minister, the phrase «the most significant of the arguments» expresses exactly the superlative degree of the quality in relation to the immediately introduced comparison with all the rest of the arguments in a dispute; the same holds true of the phrase «the most spectacular one». It is this exclusion of the outwardly superlative adjective from a comparison that makes it

into a simple elative, with its most-constituent turned from the superlative auxiliary into a kind of a lexical intensifier. The definite article with the elative most-construction is also possible, if leaving the elative function less distinctly recognizable (in oral speech the elative most is commonly left unstressed, the absence of stress serving as a negative mark of the elative). Cf.: I found myself in the most awkward situation, for I couldn't give a satisfactory answer to any question asked by the visitors. Now, the synthetically superlative degree, as is known, can be used in the elative function as well, the distinguishing feature of the latter being its exclusion from a comparison. Cf.: Unfortunately, our cooperation with Danny proved the worst experience for both of

us. No doubt Mr. Snider will show you his collection of minerals with the greatest pleasure. And this fact gives us a clue for understanding the expressive nature of the elative superlative as such – the nature that provides it with a permanent grammatico-stylistic status in the language. Indeed, the expressive peculiarity of the form consists exactly in the immediate combination of the two features which outwardly contradict each other: The categorial form of the superlative on the one hand, and the absence of a comparison on the other. That the categorical form of the superlative (i.e. the superlative with its general functional specification) is essential also for the expression of the elative semantics can, however paradoxical it might appear, be very well illustrated by