Adjective, it's types and categories — страница 8

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the elative use of the comparative degree. Indeed, the comparative combination featuring the dative comparative degree is constructed in such a way as to place it in the functional position of unrestricted superiority, i.e. in the position specifically characteristic of the superlative. E.g.: Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to greet you as our guest of honors. There is nothing more refreshing than a good swim. The parallelism of functions between the two forms of comparison (the comparative degree and the superlative degree) in such and like examples is unquestionable. As we see, the elative superlative, though it is not the regular superlative in the grammatical sense, is still a kind of a specific, grammatically featured construction. This grammatical specification

distinguishes it from common elative constructions which may be generally defined as syntactic combinations of an intensely high estimation. E.g.: an extremely important amendment; a matter of exceeding urgency; quite an unparalleled beauty; etc. Thus, from a grammatical point of view, the elative superlative, though semantically it is «elevated», is nothing else but a degraded superlative, and its distinct featuring mark with the analytical superlative degree is the indefinite article: the two forms of the superlative of different functional purposes receive the two different marks (if not quite rigorously separated in actual uses) by the article determination treatment. It follows from the above that the possibility of the most-combination to be used with the indefinite

article cannot in any way be demonstrative of its non-grammatical character, since the functions of the two superlative combinations in question, the elative superlative and the genuine superlative, are different. Moreover, the use of the indefinite article with the synthetical superlative in the degraded, dative function is not altogether impossible, though somehow such a possibility is bluntly denied by certain grammatical manuals. Cf.: He made a last lame effort to delay the experiment; but Basil was impervious to suggestion. But there is one more possibility to formally differentiate the direct and dative functions of the synthetical superlative, namely, by using the zero article with the superlative. This latter possibility is noted in some grammar books. Cf.: Suddenly I was

seized with a sensation of deepest regret. However, the general tendency of expressing the superlative dative meaning is by using the analytical form. Incidentally, in the Russian language the tendency of usage is reverse: it is the synthetical form of the Russian superlative that is preferred in rendering the dative function. Cf.: слушали с живейшим интересом; повторялась скучнейшая история; попал в глупейшее положение и т.д. Let us examine now the combinations of less/least with the basic form of the adjective. As is well known, the general view of these combinations definitely excludes them from any connection with categorial analytical forms. Strangely enough, this rejectionist view of the

«negative degrees of comparison» is even taken to support, not to reject the morphological interpretation of the more/most-combinations. The corresponding argument in favour of the rejectionist interpretation consists in pointing out the functional parallelism existing between the synthetical degrees of comparison and the more/most-combinations accompanied by their complementary distribution, if not rigorously pronounced (the different choice of the forms by different syllabo-phonetical forms of adjectives). The less/least-combinations, according to this view, are absolutely incompatible with the synthetical degrees of comparison, since they express not only different, but opposite meanings. Now, it does not require a profound analysis to see that, from the grammatical point of

view, the formula «opposite meaning» amounts to ascertaining the categorial equality of the forms compared. Indeed, if two forms express the opposite meanings, then they can only belong to units of the same general order. And we cannot but agree with B.A. Ilyish's thesis that «there seems to be no sufficient reason for treating the two sets of phrases in different ways, saying that 'more difficult' is an analytical form, while 'less difficult' is not». True, the cited author takes this fact rather as demonstration that both types of constructions should equally be excluded from the domain of analytical forms, but the problem of the categorial status of the more/most-combinations has been analyzed above. Thus, the less/least-combinations, similar to the