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4.3.1. Comparison and degree modification of pseudo-participles
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Section 2.3.1, sub III, has pointed out that pseudo-participles and a limited number of deverbal adjectives differ from the remaining set-denoting adjectives in that they allow their PP-complement to occur on their left. The same thing is true for the stranded preposition of a PP-complement; in some cases the stranded preposition even appears to the left obligatorily. Finally, 2.3.1, sub III, has discussed that degree modifiers like the intensifier erg may precede the pre-adjectival PP-complement and even must precede the pre-adjectival stranded preposition. The relevant examples are repeated in (139).

Example 139
a. Jan is erg met dat voorstel ingenomen.
  Jan is very  with that proposal  delighted
  'Jan is very delighted with that proposal.'
a'. Jan is er niet erg mee ingenomen.
  Jan is there  not  very  with  delighted
  'Jan isnʼt very delighted with it.'
b. Jan is erg tegen dat voorstel gekant.
  Jan is very  to that proposal  opposed
  'Jan is strongly opposed to that proposal.'
b'. Jan is er zeker erg tegen gekant.
  Jan is  there  certainly  very  to  opposed
  'Jan is certainly strongly opposed to it.'

The examples in (139) show that the modifier erg does not modify the head of the AP, in which case we would expect it to be adjacent to the adjective and thus to follow (the stranded preposition of) the PP-complement; instead, it seems to modify the AP as a whole. The structure of the examples in (139) is therefore approximately as given in (140), in which PP stands for the base-position of the PP-complement of the adjective.

Example 140
[... erg [AP PP A]]

Now consider the examples in (141), which do not involve an adjectival modifier but periphrastic majorative and maximative constructions. These examples show that, like the modifier erg, the periphrastic elements meer and het meest may precede the pre-adjectival PP-complements (see also Section 4.1.3, sub VC), and must precede the pre-adjectival stranded prepositions. The same orders arise in minorative and minimative constructions, that is, if we replace the periphrastic elements meer and meest in (141) by minder and minst, but this will go unillustrated here.

Example 141
a. Jan is meer/het meest met dat voorstel ingenomen.
  Jan is more/the most  with that proposal  delighted
a'. Jan is er meer/het meest mee ingenomen.
  Jan is there  more/the most  with  delighted
b. Jan is meer/het meest tegen dat voorstel gekant.
  Jan is more/the most  to that proposal  opposed
b'. Jan is er meer/het meest tegen gekant.
  Jan is there  more/the most  to  opposed

The word orders in (141) show that periphrastic comparative/superlative elements do not modify the head of the AP, which means that these examples can be assigned the structures in (142), which are similar to the one in (140) in all relevant respects. This word order similarity between the examples in (139) and (141) is therefore a first indication that modification and comparison formation can or must be treated on a par.

Example 142
a. [... meer [AP PP/P A]]
b. [... meest [AP PP/P A]]

      Of course, it is clear that a similar argument cannot be used when we are dealing with morphological comparative or superlative forms: these are derived by means of affixes, which must be supported by a stem: this means that the adjectival stem and the comparative/superlative suffix are strictly adjacent by definition. Now, let us consider in more detail an adjective like geschikt voor ...'suitable for', which allows both the periphrastic and the morphological comparative/superlative. The examples in (143b&c) show that the stranded preposition may either precede or follow the adjective in the periphrastic construction, just as in (143a), in which the adjective is modified by the intensifier erg.

Example 143
a. een vak waar Jan erg <voor> geschikt <voor> is
  a profession  where  Jan very    for  suitable  is
  'a profession for which Jan is suitable'
b. een vak waar Jan meer <voor> geschikt <voor> is
  a profession  where  Jan more    for  suitable  is
  'a profession for which Jan is more suitable'
c. het vak waar Jan het meest <voor> geschikt <voor> is
  the profession  where  Jan the most    for  suitable  is
  'the profession for which Jan is the most suitable'

However, if we use the morphological comparative or superlative form, placement of the stranded preposition in front of the adjective leads to severe ungrammaticality, as is shown in (144).

Example 144
a. een vak waar Jan <*voor> geschikter <voor> is
  a profession  where  Jan     for  more.suitable  is
  'a profession for which Jan is more suitable'
b. het vak waar Jan <*voor> het geschiktst <voor> is
  the profession  where  Jan     for  the most.suitable  is
  'the profession for which Jan is the most suitable'

This remarkable unacceptability of the order with the stranded preposition preceding the adjective can be accounted for by assuming that the morphological comparative/superlative form occupies the same position as the elements erg, meer and meest in (140) and (142). Since it is reasonable to assume that the base structures of the examples in (143) and (144) are similar, the surface position of the adjective must be the result of leftward movement. Consequently, the derivations of the examples in (144) start with the base structure in (145a), in which the stranded preposition may either precede or follow the adjective. Then we derive the morphological form of the comparative/superlative by moving the adjective into the position of the affix -er/-st, as in (145b), as a result of which the morphologically complex forms A -er and A -st are created. The result of this movement of the adjective is that the comparative/superlative necessarily precedes the stranded preposition.

Example 145
a. [... -er/-st [AP (P) A (P)]]
b. [... A-er/-st [AP (P) t (P)]]

      Movement of the adjective, as in (145b), applies not only in the case of morphological majoratives/superlatives. Consider the examples in (146). In (146a), it is shown that the stranded preposition of the complement of the pseudo-participle bedacht'cautious' may either precede or follow the adjective. However, if bedacht is modified by the complex modifier zo ... mogelijk'as ... as possible', as in (146b), the stranded preposition must follow the adjective; actually, it must follow the element mogelijk as well. Something similar holds if the adjective is modified by the element genoeg'enough', as in (146c).

Example 146
a. Ik ben er <op> bedacht <op>.
  am  there   for  cautious
b. Ik ben er zo <*op> bedacht <*op> mogelijk <op>.
  am  there  as     for  cautious  as.possible
c. Ik ben er <*op> bedacht <*op> genoeg <op>.
  am  there      for  cautious  enough

This can be accounted for by assuming that the elements mogelijk and genoeg occupy the same position as the affixes in (145), and that for some reason the adjectives must undergo the same movement as in (145b). In other words, the base structure of the examples in (146b&c) is as indicated in (147a), and the examples in question are derived by moving the adjective to a position in front of mogelijk/genoeg, as in (147b).

Example 147
a. [... mogelijk/genoeg [AP (P) A (P)]]
b. [... A mogelijk/genoeg [AP (P) t (P)]]

If we are on the right track with this proposal, it can be seen as a second argument in favor of assuming that modification and comparative/superlative formation must be treated on a par. Section 4.3.2 will give somewhat simpler additional evidence in favor of this view.

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