Syrian Arabic, like English, has a syntactic constraint on the formation of clauses that describe standards of comparison. But unlike in English, the scope of the comparative and the derivation of the degree clause are syntactically uniform. This difference in scope is discussed in "Comparatives in Arabic", a talk by Peter Hallman of the Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI). The talk is part of OFAI's 2022 Lecture Series.
Members of the public are cordially invited to attend the talk via Zoom on Tuesday, 25 October at 18:30 CEST (UTC+2):
Meeting ID: 842 8244 2460
Talk abstract: In this talk, I show firstly that English and Syrian Arabic (which is typical of the contemporary Arabic dialects in the relevant respects) share a syntactic constraint on the formation of ‘degree clauses’, the clauses that describe the standard of comparison that in English are introduced by ‘than’, i.e., the bracketed part in ‘Clyde is taller [than Miriam is]’. Secondly, I show that in Syrian Arabic but not English, the relevant restriction also constrains the scope of the comparative itself, effecting the repertoire of possible interpretations for comparative constructions in that language. Consequently, the scope of the comparative and the derivation of the degree clause are syntactically uniform in Arabic but not in English. I offer some speculations on the source of the unexpected non-uniformity of English, which is probably related to differences in the structure of noun phrases between the two languages.
Speaker biography: Peter Hallman is a theoretical linguist at the Austrian Institute for Artificial Intelligence (OFAI) with specializations in syntax, semantics and morphology, and language area specializations in Arabic, German and English.