Theoretical aspects of degrees comparison. Comparativa analysis of degrees of comparison

The pillars of any degree of comparison. Morphological composition of the adjectives. An introduction on degrees of comparison. Development and stylistic potential of degrees of comparison. General notes on comparative analysis. Contrastive linguistics.

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"We almost gave up." (It doesn't sound like a high-level emotion. They almost gave up, but they didn't.)

Some show a higher level of emotion:

"She really scolded him." (You can scold someone with a low tone of voice, and very few words. The word really tells us that the person doing the scolding was doing it loudly, and had a lot to say!)

"He had barely finished the test at the moment the teacher said "Stop". (That sentence doesn't sound like there was a crisis, but if the person taking the test had been trying very hard to finish the test, he finished just in the nick of time: at the last possible moment; barely.)

Some show a very high level of feeling:

"I completely give up!" (The speaker is feeling exasperated! (extremely annoyed/irritated/frustrated)

"I definitely hate our new house!" (No doubt the speaker is quite unhappy. 'hate' is a very strong word, as is 'definitely'.)

You will see that some words can be more than one place on the scale, showing low-level emotion in one sentence, and high-level in another. Much depends on the context of the sentence, and the intent of the speaker. You just read the sentence with "barely" in it.

"They barely had time to rescue the children from the burning house!"

C) Allerton

Allerton presents a different classification of degree modifiers. His classification is based on degree modifiers of adjectives. There is no attempt to analyze the relations between the various groups of degree modifiers, neither in terms of a scale nor in terms of a branching hierarchy. Instead, his contribution to the description of degree modifiers is a classification where four subgroups are distinguished according to the gradable feature involved. His classification can be summarized as follows.

* Scalar modifiers indicates different parts of a mental scale of degree which ranges from immeasurably high to zero.

Examples: extremely, very, pretty, rather, fairly, somewhat, slightly, not at all. Within this group Allerton distinguishes boosters, moderators, diminishers, and zeroisers, which correspond to Quirk et al's subgroups, except for their maximizers. In this group Allerton also includes the comparatives more (or -er), most( or -est) less and least and too.

* Telic modifiers relate the actual degree of the modified item to the degree required for some purpose and place it above or below that mark.

Examples: easily, barely, only, just, hardly, virtually, nearly.

* absolutive modifiers indicate that the degree of the modified item is superlative.

examples: absolutely, utterly, totally, entirely.

Absolutive modifiers combine with superlative types of adjectives. This group correspond to Quirk et al's maximizers.

* differential modifiers indicates the difference of degree between the item being described and some reference point.

Examples: far, much, a lot, marginally, slightly, a bit in combination with comparatives.

Intensifiers with strong adjectives:

When we want to describe something or someone as exceptional you can use a strong adjective. Strong adjectives are words like: [Strang, Barbara M. H,p.93]

Enormous; huge = very big Tiny = very small Brilliant = very clever Awful; terrible; disgusting; dreadful = very bad Certain = very sure Excellent; perfect; ideal; wonderful; splendid = very good Delicious = very tasty.

We do not use very with these adjectives. We do not say something is very enormous or someone is very brilliant. With strong adjectives, for intensifiers we normally use:

absolutely - exceptionally - particularly - really - quite

Examples: The film was absolutely awful. He was an exceptionally brilliant child. The food smelled really disgusting.

Intensifiers with particular adjectives

Some intensifiers go with particular adjectives depending on their meaning. Some intensifiers go with particular adjectives. For example we use the intensifier highly with the adjectives successful, intelligent, likely and unlikely:

Examples: He was highly intelligent. She's a highly successful businesswoman

We use the intensifier bitterly with the adjectives disappointed, unhappy and cold:

Examples: I was bitterly unhappy at school. We were bitterly disappointed to lose the match. It can get bitterly cold in winter.

Intensifiers with comparatives and superlatives:

We use these words and phrases as intensifiers with comparative adjectives:

much - far - a lot - quite a lot - a great deal - a good deal - a good bit - a fair bit

Examples: He is much older than me. New York is a lot bigger than Boston.

We use much and far as intensifiers with comparative adjectives in front of a noun:

Examples: France is a much bigger country than Britain. He is a far better player than Ronaldo.

We use these words as intensifiers with superlatives: easily - by far - far

Examples: The blue whale is easily the biggest animal in the world. This car was by far the most expensive.

Borrowing from the negative

There is a curious pattern of intensification that uses negative words to intensify positive verbs.

These words include: Awfully, dreadfully, fearfully, terribly, ridiculously, insanely, disgustingly, hideously, etc.

Examples: She is dreadfully beautiful. What an insanely good idea!

What in effect is happening here is that many strong emotions are negative, so using them in a positive context borrows that intensity of emotion whilst the contextual cues show that the real meaning is positive. An additional effect is that combining negative and positive words in the same sentence creates confusion, which itself is also adds to the emotion.

A curious fact about this usage is that it is particularly popular with upper-class British people.

* De-intensification by intensification

Sometimes intensification is done deliberately but with the opposite intent. This use of sarcasm may be done against another person or used in a more ironic sense about the situation.

Example: Oh, very clever! ( actually meaning rather stupid).

1.7 Degrees of comparison in Romanian

morphological stylistic degree comparison

Romanian language shares many characteristics with its more distant relatives: Italian, French, Spanish, etc. However, Romanian has preserved certain features of Latin grammar that have been lost elsewhere. In Romanian the categories of comparison and of intensity know a much richer configuration than Latin, having a remarkable expressive potential. If the system of comparison is very well represented, the category of intensity is neglected by linguists. [James E. Augerot, p, 496]

*Degrees of comparison of the adjectives

a) The comparative degree

* The comparative of superiority

The comparative of superiority is formed with the adverb mai (more) preceding the actual adjective, and with the comparative preposition decit or ca following it:



Filmul este mai interesant decit/ca romanul.

The movie is more interesting than the novel.

Ea este mai mare decit mine.

She is older than me.

- the comparative preposition ca is more frequent than decit in colloquial speech.

- nouns and pronouns after decit or ca are in the accusative case.

- the adverb mai can be reinforced by other adverbs like mult, cu mult, incomparabil, infinit: [Gheorghe Doca,p 392]


Filmul este mult mai/cu mult mai interesant decit romanul.

The movie is much more interesting than the novel.

* The comparative of equality

The comparative of equality is formed with the adverbial structures tot asa de/tot atit de (as), preceding the actual adjective, and with the comparative prepositions ca or ca si following it:

Tot asa de\tot atit de\la fel de+adjective+ ca (si)+ accusative


Filmul este tot asa de interesant ca romanul.

The movie is as interesting as the novel is.

Am vazut un film la fel de interesant ca acesta.

I saw a movie as interesting as this one.

-nouns and pronouns after ca\ ca si aare in the accusative case. [Liana Pop, Victoria Moldovan,,p.58]

* The comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority is formed with the adverbial structure mai putin (less) preceding the actual adjective, and with the comparative prepositions decit or ca following it: [ Cojocaru Daniel,p.183]

Mai putin+adjective+decit/ca+ accusative


Filmul este mai putin interesant decit romanul.

The movie is less interesting than the novel.

- nouns and pronouns after decit or ca are in the accusative.

- the adverb mai putin can be replaced by other adverbs, such as mult, cu mult


Filmul este cu mult mai putin interesant decit romanul.

b) The superlative degree

* The superlative relative of superiority

The superlative relative of superiority is formed with the adverbial structure cel\cea\cei\cele mai( the most) preceding the structural adjective:

Cel\cea\cei\cele mai+adjective [+ dintre/din]


El a scris referatul cel mai interesant.

He wrote the most interesting paper.

Compunerea ei este cea mai frumoasa din clasa

Her composition is the most beautiful in class.

- the element cel, cea, cei, cele that comes before the invariable component mai takes the gender and the number of modified noun.

- when the adjective comes after the noun it modifies, the noun takes the definite article: romanul cel mai interesant( the most interesting novel).

- the adjective in the superlative degree can precede the modified noun, in which case the noun loses the definite article: romanul cel mai interesant, but cel mai interesant roman

* The superlative relative of inferiority

The superlative of inferiority is formed with the help of adverbial structure cel/ cea/cei/cele mai putin ( the least) preceding the actual adjective:

Cel/cea/cei/cele mai putin + adjective [+dintre/din]


A scris referatul cel mai putin interesant.

He wrote the least interesting paper.

- the element cel, cea, cei, cele takes the gender and the number of the modified noun

- if the adjective comes after the modified noun, the noun always takes the definite article: Romanul cel mai putin interesant( the least interesting novel)

* The superlative absolute

The superlative absolute is formed with different adverbs preceding the actual adjective. The most frequent adverb is foarte( very).

Foarte/tare/extreme de/cit se poate de+ adjective


Am citit un articol foarte interesant.

I've read a very interesting article.

Parerea ei este cit se poate de interesanta.

Her opinion is really important

- the standard adverb used to form the superlative absolute is foarte

- the other adverbs or adverbial constructions are emotionally marked

- the adverb tare is used in the colloquial style

*Adjectives that do not form degrees of comparison

Some adjectives do not form degrees of comparison:

Superior ( superior) inferior (inferior) prim (prime, first)

ultim (last,ultimate) major (major) minor (minor)

perfect (perfect) desavirsit ( perfect) anterior ( previous)

ulterior (ulterior) asemenea ( alike) optim (optimal)

unic ( unique) suprem (supreme)

* Degrees of comparison of the adverbs

a) The comparative degree

* The comparative of superiority

The comparative of superiority is formed with the help of invariable adverb mai preceding the actual adverb, and with the comparative prepositions decit or ca

Mai+ adverb+ decit/ca+ accusative


Tu ai raspuns mai bine decit mine.

You answered better than I did.

*The comparative of equality

tot asa de/tot atit de/la fel de+ adverb+ ca/ca si+ accusative


Tu ai raspuns tot asa de repede ca mine.

You answered as quickly as I did.

*The comparative of inferiority

The comparative of inferiority is formed with the invariable adverble structure mai putin preceding the actual adverb, and with the comparative prepositions decit or ca

mai putin+adverb+decit/ca+ accusative


Tu ai raspuns mai putin bine decit mine.

You answered less well then I did.

b) The superlative degree

* The superlative relative of superiority

The adverbs form the superlative relative of superiority with the invariable structure cel mai preceding the adverb:

Cel mai+ adverb[+dintre, din]


El scrie cel mai bine.

His writing is the best.

- the whole superlative structure can be followed by the restrictive construction din+noun/pronoun in the singular or dintre+ noun/pronoun in the plural

* The superlative relative of inferiority

The adverbs form the superlative relative of inferiority with the invariable structure cel mai putin preceding the adverb:

Cel mai putin+ adverb[+dintre,din]


El scrie cel mai putin bine.

His writing is the least good.

*The superlative absolute

The superlative absolute is formed with different adverbs preceding the actual adverb. The most frequent adverb is foarte( very).

Foarte/tare/extreme de/cit se poate de+ adverb


Studentii scriu foarte bine.

My students write very well.

- the standard adverb used to form the superlative absolute is foarte

- the others adverbs or adverbial constructions are emotionally marked

- the adverb tare is used in the colloquial style,and it also have an emotional value.


Chapter II includes the practical part of this diploma paper. It illustrates the theoretical part we have presented in the first chapter of this research work. First of all, we made an introduction in comparative analysis, as a basic method in a research work. We have studied the history of the comparative analysis and have selected the main ideas that we consider are important to put them down. After an introduction to the comparative analysis, we have compared the degrees of comparison from English and Romanian and have found some differences and sameness as concerning the formation, the functions and the meaning of the categories of comparison in both languages.

One of the important uses of language is to enable us to compare people - ordinary or famous personalities - things like, films, houses, furniture, sports and the like and express our ideas precisely and effectively.

Often, you'll want to compare things rather than just describe them. Not to worry; English has this covered. Adjectives and adverbs have different forms to show degrees of comparison. We even have a name for each of these forms of degree: positive, comparative, and superlative.

We use several different grammatical structures for comparing: similarity and identity. To say that people or things are similar in a way we can use as or like. Other structures that are used to convey similar ideas are so do I and neither do I.

2.1 General notes on comparative analysis

As we know, the majority of words in the English language have more than one meaning, it means that they are polysemantic. The combination of words comparative analysis may refer to a social science, a literary analysis, two different processes.

While investigating the term comparative analysis we came across a lot of definitions which have, in the same time, similarities and differences between them, some characteristic features and peculiar ones.

* First of all, we can find such a definition in the Business Dictionary that says that comparative analysis is the term which refer to item-by-item comparison of two or more comparable alternatives,processes, products, qualifications, sets of data, systems, or the like. In accounting, for example, changes in a financial statement's items over several accounting periods may be presented together to detect the emerging trends in the company's operations and results.

The same dictionary also give us a synonym to this term, under the name of comparability analysis which consists in side by side examination of two or more alternatives, processes, products, qualifications, sets of data, systems, to determine if they have enough common-ground, equivalence, or similarities to permit a meaningful comparative analysis. For example, financial data of two firms from very different industries may be comparable if they use similar performance measures, follow similar accounting methods, policies, and procedures, and disclose their financial information to the similar extent. A very high degree of comparability may indicate uniformity.

* Daniel S. Weld gives us the shortest and more comprehensible definition to this term : Comparative analysis answers questions about how and why a system is equal or different from another one.

* English Dictionary by J Farex makes us think that this word have much more meanings that we thought. Here there are the definition :

comparative adj

1. denoting or involving comparison comparative literature

2. judged by comparison; relative a comparative loss of prestige

3. denoting the form of an adjective that indicates that the quality denoted is possessed to a greater extent. In English the comparative form of an adjective is usually marked by the suffix -er or the word more

Kerry Walk, another scientist proposes us to regard a comparative research as a whole process.

A comparative analysis compare and contrast two things: two texts, two theories, two historical figures, two scientific processes, and so on.

He consider that there are two kinds f comparative analysis:

* "Classic" compare-and-contrast analysis in which you weight A and B equally, may be about two similar things that have crucial differences (two pesticides with different effects on the environment) or two similar things that have crucial differences, yet turn out to have surprising commonalities (two politicians with vastly different world views who voice unexpectedly similar perspectives on sexual harassment).

* In the "lens" (or "keyhole") comparison, in which you weight A less heavily than B, you use A as a lens through which to view B. Just as looking through a pair of glasses changes the way you see an object, using A as a framework for understanding B changes the way you see B. Lens comparisons are useful for illuminating, critiquing, or challenging the stability of a thing that, before the analysis, seemed perfectly understood. Often, lens comparisons take time into account: earlier texts, events, or historical figures may illuminate later ones, and vice versa

* The history of comparative analysis

The comparative method has taken many forms since Augustus Comte first employed the concept in 1853 in his foundational Cours de philosophie positive. Subsequently a variety of comparative methods have emerged in the social sciences with different goals, units of comparison, and types of data that reflect a variety of theoretical assumptions and interests. Comparison has formed the core of anthropology, sociology and other social sciences, to the extent that Emile Durkheim (1938) viewed all sociological analysis as necessarily comparative. Comparative methods have been employed for both quantitative and qualitative studies of such diverse phenomena as language, political organization, economic relations, religion, myth, kinship, marriage, and the family.

Three strategies are used in comparative methodologies: illustrative comparison, complete or universe comparison, and sampled-based comparisons They are distinguished by the units of comparison (including cultures, societies, regions, or communities) and the particular items or features used to compare the units. Societies as units can be compared by examining items or traits such as institutions or practices. Illustrative comparison is the most common form of comparative analysis and has been employed extensively by theorists from diverse camps. Items are used as examples to explain or exemplify phenomena found in different units. They are chosen for their illustrative value and not systematically selected to be statistically representative. Illustrative comparisons are used in historical reconstructions, and to support interpretations or general assertions. Ethnographic case studies are commonly justified as the source for illustrative comparisons.

The second strategy is complete or universe comparison, in which all elements of the domain within the study, defined geographically (e.g., global or regional) or topically (e.g., analytical concepts or institutions), form the units of comparison. Comprehensive regional ethnographic surveys and analyses of particular topics, such as the national population health indicators of the World Health Organization reports, employ this approach.

The comparative method is often used in the early stages of the development of a branch of science. It can help the researcher to ascend from the initial level of exploratory case studies to a more advanced level of general theoretical models, invariances, such as causality or evolution.

The design of comparative research is simple. Your objects are specimens or cases which are similar in some respects (otherwise, it would not be meaningful to compare them) but they differ in some respects. These differences become the focus of examination. The goal is to find out why the cases are different: to reveal the general underlying structure which generates or allows such a variation.

Comparation is one of the most efficient methods for explicating or utilizing tacit knowledge or tacit attitudes. This can be done, for example, by showing in parallel two slides of two slightly different objects or situations and by asking people to explain verbally their differences.

The method is also versatile: you can use it in detail work as a complement to other methods, or the entire structure of a research project can consist of the comparison of just a few cases.

In comparative study, you are examining two (or more) cases, specimens or events, often in the form of a table such as can be seen on the right where a column is reserved for each case, here called "Case 1" and "Case 2". On the basis of the target of your study you have to decide which are the interesting aspects, properties or attributes that you will have to note and record for each of the cases.. During the process of analysis, you then can add new aspects or drop out fruitless ones. Those aspects that are similar in both the cases need not be recorded, because here you are not making two case studies but only a comparison of the cases.

The final goal of research is usually to reveal the systematic structure invariance, that is true not only for the cases that were studied, but for the entire group where the cases came from. In other words, the goal is to generalize the findings. Of course, it would be foolhardy to assert anything about a larger group, if your study consisted of just two cases. The plausibility of your generalisation will increase, if you have instead of "Case 1", several cases from the same group, let us call it "Group 1", and similarly several cases from "Group 2". If all or the majority of these pairs show the same invariance, its credibility will quickly rise. There are statistical methods to calculate the credibility, or statistical significance of the findings. The question whether the found invariance then is true even outside the population, is something that the researcher normally leaves to be speculated by the readers of his report.

In the case that you wish to compare more than two groups, or the number of cases is large, the study begins to approach classification, a method that is discussed on another page.

In comparative like in most other studies there are two different styles, both of which will be discussed below:

Descriptive Comparison aims at describing and perhaps also explaining the invariances of the objects. It does not aim at generating changes in the objects, on the contrary, it usually tries to avoid them.

A special style of research is needed when the aim is not just to detect and explain but also to improve the present state of the object, or to help improving or developing similar objects in the future. This is the technique of Normative Comparison. While we make a comparative analysis we should pay attention to the following points:

Frame of Reference. This is the context within which you place the two things you plan to compare and contrast; it is the umbrella under which you have grouped them. The frame of reference may consist of an idea, theme, question, problem, or theory; a group of similar things from which you extract two for special attention; biographical or historical information. The best frames of reference are constructed from specific sources rather than your own thoughts or observations.

Thesis. The grounds for comparison anticipates the comparative nature of your thesis. As in any argumentative paper, your thesis statement will convey the gist of your argument, which necessarily follows from your frame of reference. But in a compare-and-contrast, the thesis depends on how the two things you've chosen to compare actually relate to one another. Do they extend, corroborate, complicate, contradict, correct, or debate one another? In the most common compare-and-contrast paper--one focusing on differences--you can indicate the precise relationship between A and B by using the word "whereas" in your thesis

Organizational Scheme. Your introduction will include your frame of reference, grounds for comparison, and thesis. There are two basic ways to organize the body of your paper.

In text-by-text, you discuss all of A, then all of B.

In point-by-point, you alternate points about A with comparable points about B.

2.2 Contrastive linguistics

There is a constantly growing interest in contrastive linguistics or linguistic confrontation. Some linguists think the first term narrows the field of research and they speak of contrastive analysis as part of a wider field denoted by the term linguistic confrontation. The word contrast comes from the Latin contrastare and implies difference, opposition. Before we turn to differences we should compare systematically and synchronically objects which may be quiet similar, or even the same in some respects. Sameness and similarity have always been the cornerstone of linguistic confrontation. It has been tacitly assumed, that different peoples, who normally use different languages in their own national life can and must communicate with each other. It is, therefore, practically impossible even to imagine what was the earliest date when the first ever translation, from one language into another, was attempted. Going back into history, we shall have no difficulty in discovering an enormous variety of situations, when people, whose native languages belong to completely different families and are as different as can be, have succeeded in getting along together. Whatever the particular kind of activity, they have never failed to arrive at some kind of mutual understanding.

The comparative-historical study of languages for many years was considered to be unique and only scientific method in linguistics. However, it gradually gave way to other methods and approaches. There was a growing interest in linguistic synchrony and in the study of natural human languages as a special kind of semiotic system. Nevertheless, the idea of comparing different languages remained as a guiding principle, but the synchronic comparison implies a quest for altogether new sets of features of peculiarities. For comparative philology these were always thought as of something that was genetically common, something that gradually diverged under the pressure of a variety of structural and extralinguistic factors. Analytical comparison was, and is still, looking for something to serve for the comparison of languages of totally different families, for some kind of abstract features and peculiarities. They must be regarded as similar or even identical in spite of the fact that the languages, which are assumed to share these properties, have no genetic ties at present, and have never had in the past. The confrontational comparison has the advantage over comparative philology of being able to suggest a method, which would be applicable to all languages, irrespective of their history or possible genetic relationship.

Comparison, in the widest sense of the word, is ruled out unless those carrying it out are convinced that there does exist a certain fundamental similarity between the two or more objects under investigation. If there were no underlying assumptions that all languages have something in common, the problem of confrontation simply would not exist.

2.3 The category of comparison in English and Romanian

The category of comparison has historically changed in both languages. The reduction of the morphological paradigm in English led to the obliteration of the grammatical categories of gender, number and case. In Romanian grammatical gender and number have been preserved. The marked and unmarked categorical forms of positive, comparative and superlative degrees are expressed in English synthetically, analytically and suppletivelly. Historically the synthetic forms were used in Old English and the analytical ones appeared as a system in the Middle English, when the periphrastic comparative forms, only occasionally used in Old English, began to be substituted (under French influence) by analytical forms with ma, mo, mare, more, mast, most, which were used both with English and French adjectives, with monosyllables and disyllables, as well as with polysyllables. The preference of these over synthetic forms may in some cases be stylistic.

The absolute superlative ( most + positive form) may have appeared under the influence of Latin ( You are most kind). It is known that in Latin the degrees of comparison were formed synthetically. But even in the classic Latin a number of adjectives existed which formed the degrees of comparison analytically. In the V and VI centuries the analytical forms started to substitute the synthetic ones. Magis and plus were used to form the comparative degrees, and maxime, super, valde, bene were used to form the superlative. In Old Latin the comparison of the adjective by means of magis became a grammatical way in Iberia, the South of Galia and the Danube basin. The adverb plus was also used in forming the comparative degree, but it was not widely spread being used only in the Northern part of Galia. The superlative was formed by means of maxime and multum. In the Oriental Romance languages the forms magis dulce turned into mai dulce - cel mai dulce. Besides that other comparative constructions appeared: tot atit de bun, mai putin bun, prea bun, foarte bun, extreme de bun, etc.

Some linguists affirm that the positive degree should not be considered as part of the category of comparison. Here we should say that there exist an opposition of marked (superlative and comparative degrees) and the unmarked ( the positive degree) categorical forms. Even within the positive degree we can compare lexically and contextually:

Example: This apple is sweet and that one is sour.

Compare: This apple is sweeter than that one.

That apple is less sweet than this one.

That apple is not so sweet as this one.

That apple is sourer than this one.

That means that we taste the two apples and compare them on the same level. While when we say that the apple is sweeter/sourer or the sweetest we compare in the limits of the same adjective and quality. Some linguists affirm that the positive degree should not be considered as part of the category of comparison, but it is one of the three categorical forms of comparison, the unmarked one.

The degrees of comparison of adjectives and adverbs are usually considered to be part of the corresponding grammatical categories. The synthetic forms express comparison purely grammatically. When we turn to the analytical forms the picture is different. More and most which regularly are used to form the analytical degrees of comparison, being elements of the given analytical forms, have partially preserved their original lexical meaning.

The same can be seen in Romanian: mai, cel mai practically express the same meanings. Besides there are a number of words used as lexical intensifiers in both languages, which are used with both analytical and synthetic forms.

Degrees of comparison express equality and difference of degree within the same quality. Only those adjectives, which denote properties, can have degrees of comparison. Usually grammar books say that qualitative adjectives can form the degrees of comparison and the relative ones do not. This is not always the case. Thus: adjective with the suffix -ish (reddish), with a negative meaning like impossible), a number of adjectives, which mainly belong to a superlative meaning (exclusive, absolute, extreme, principal, chief, unique, superior, inferior, complete, etc). But even these adjective can be used with intensifiers to express a certain inequality: far superior, much more superior, very much superior, less superior, much less superior, least superior. Even those adjectives that do not form the degrees of comparison, belong to the positive degree and ca n some cases be used for stylistic purposes to form a comparative degree.

Example: You cannot be deader than dead.

He was the deadest of them all.

You are not less dead than he is. (E. Hemingway)

Relative adjective do not form degrees of comparison ( woolen, wooden, economic) and some of them can express relative quality of objects or phenomena ( wooden door, glass door, a monthly magazine, daily program, European country, political life, capitalist society, socialist ideology). In some cases relative adjectives acquire an additional meaning and can form the degrees of comparison:

Examples: The life there had been more English than in England.

John is more English than the English. John is very English.

He is English to the backbone.

He has very little English in him and you have even less.

A grammatical topic - a less grammatical topic - a purely

grammatical topic - a more grammatical topic - the most grammatical

of the suggested topics.

In all these examples we really detect a difference or variation of quality within the same adjective. Qualitative adjectives express various qualities within the same adjective defining a certain object or phenomenon. Thus, varying and static quality could be considered as an opposition. In this respect we should mention Blokh's division of adjectives into evaluative and specific [Blokh,1983, pages 127- 135]. One and the same adjective can be used either in the evaluative or in the specificative function. As an example he gives the adjective good, which is basically qualitative ( good-better-the best), but when used as part of a marking scale together with the grading terms bad, satisfactory, excellent, it acquires a static or specificative function. On the other hand, the whole grading system here (bad-satisfactory-good-excellent) could be considered as a paradigm of lexical degrees of comparison. All the adjectives, which can form degrees of comparison, either lexically or grammatically ( the synthetic forms) can vary their quality or be evaluative.

The comparative degree in English and Romanian help to establish a correlation of superiority, inferiority and equality of a variable quality or property, possessed by objects or phenomena, which are compared or contrasted. The comparative degree of equality compares objects or phenomena on the same level. In other words, it expresses an equality or an equivalence of qualities or properties of two or more objects.

Example : This mountain is as high as that one. Acest munte este tot atit de inalt ca si celalalt.

Thus, if negation is added here then inequality comparison is used.

Example: This mountain is not so high as that one. Muntele acesta nu este to tati de inalt ca celalalt.

In Romanian the degree of comparison of equality and inequality is formed by the help of the following constructions: tot asa de, tot atit de, la fel de, deopotriva de,

Example: Aceasta greseala nu este tot atit de grava ca aceea.

This mistake is not as grave as that one.

There are a quiet number of idioms, where the comparative of equality is used (though in many cases the meaning of superlative is implied:

Example: as busy as a bee ( very busy) - harnic ca o albina ( foarte harnic).

The comparative degree of superiority shows that the object or phenomena has a higher degree of quality in comparison with those, which are compared. In English th comparative of superiority is expressed by the comparative degree (synthetic, analytical or suppletive forms) of the adjective and is followed by the conjunction than.

Example: You are more interested in my dresses than my dressmaker.

Intensifiers are often used to increase the variation on the comparative degree level.

Example: This is much better. Aceasta e mult mai bine.

This is much more better. Aceasta e cu mult mai bine.

Very often the second element of the comparison of superiority or inferiority is omitted because of contextual redundancy

Example: You won't find better examples. Nu vei gasi exemple mai


The girl was getting more and more beautiful. Fata se facea din

ce in ce mai frumoasa.

Thus comparing English and Romanian here we could say that we observe a very close coincidence on the semantic level, on the formal level the synthetic forms are not used in Romanian. The comparative degree of inferiority both in English and Romanian shows that objects or phenomena have a lower degree of quality in comparison with other ones;

Example: The number of people is less numerous that it was last time.

Numarul de oameni este mai putin numeros decit data trecuta.

If we combine less and mai putin with not (nu) we get an equivalent of comparative of equality.

Example: The number of people is not less numerous than it was last time.

Numarul de oameni nu este mai putin numeros decit data trecuta.

We can have gradual transition on the level of the same categorical form by using intensifiers of various degree.

Examples: Tom was taller than Peter. Tom era mai inalt decit Peter.

Tom was much more taller than Peter. Tom era mult mai inalt decit Peter

The superlative degree establishes that an object or phenomenon possesses a quality or a property in the highest or in the lowest degree. The English relative superlative has two forms (analytical and synthetic) while in Romanian only the analytical forms are used. The superlative may be absolute and relative. The absolute superlative shows a quality in its highest degree without a comparison with other objects in the given context. Intensifiers are often used here

Examples: You are a very good child.

You are an extremely good child.

You are a very good child indeed.

Be quick or it may be too late.

We should mention that the most of the intensifiers are not only used to intensify the degree of variation of the equality but they also used metasemiotically, to produce a stylistic effect. In this case grammatically and especially the lexical means are widely supported by prosodic means

Example : Oh, she is glorious!

In addition to the lexical superlative expressed by glorious the prosodic elements that should be used here considerably intensify the degree of absolute superlative both semiotically and metasemiotically: the adjective glorious is pronounced in a loud voice (increased loudness), showed down tempo, wide rsnge, high falling tone - all these prosodic elements are characteristic of highly emotional, emphatic speech.

There are quite a number of adjectives which become absolute superlatives by using such lexical means like:

a) affixes: -less; ultra-; super-; over-;

Examples: peerless, oversensitive, superfine, ultrashort;

b) analytical genitives:

Examples: A mountain of a man - a very tall man.

A devil of a child - a very naughty child.

A monster of a dog - a monstrous dog.

A mountain of happiness - extremely happy.

c) some other combination:

Examples: Without compare (equal) - to good, to great to be

compared to anybody else ;

d) repetitions:

Example: A red, red rose!

e) hyperboles:

Example: Scared to death - very frightened;

Immensely obliged - very much obliged;

Full to the brim - quite full;

f) simile:

Example: (as) black as coal - quite black;

(as) dry as a bone - very dry;

g) metaphor:

Example: blowing hot and cold - very hesitating;

He is a fox - He is very sly.

h) litotes:

Example: no coward- very brave.;

Practically all these means, which help express an absolute superlative are metasemioticaly charged and posses inherent stylistic connotations. It should also be mentioned here that the absolute superlative is not used with a definite article, while the relative superlative is regularly used with a definite article or other deictic means.

Example: The girl put on the best clothes to go to the theatre.

Sometimes the article may be omitted for the sake of expressivity and is emotionally coloured, intensified here by prosody:

Example: Oh, most faithful of friends!

When a noun is defined by a number of superlatives the definite noun may be repeated only in case of emphasis;

Example: He is the cleverest, sweetest and most affectionate of children. He is the cleverest, sweetest and the most affectionate of children.

Sometimes the use of superlative degree with an indefinite article is explained by stating that it is just an adjective used to express a high degree of the quality possessed by the noun. This probably is not the case in the following examples:

Yesterday I have read a most interesting book, I have seen a most interesting film

In this case it is just an absolute superlative ( a very interesting book or film), in each example we have an adjective defining a noun belonging to a class of object possessing a superlative quality, one of the class ( a most interesting book, belonging to the class the most interesting books). When a noun is preceded by most, the zero articles are usually used. The meaning of most in many cases is most, but not all of them, the majority of .

Example: Most leaves are green.

He finds most pleasure in reading.

Most of his mistakes are made through carelessness.

In case the second element of comparison is omitted, the definite article may be dropped

Example: The book is most interesting;

He is happiest when everybody is at home.

Most intensifiers, including double superlative, are used for the sake of intensification or to produce a stylistic effect, or both, belong to colloquial or dialectal style. Thus, such forms as most noblest was accepted in Shakespeare's times, but now it is not acceptable in the literary language. But other intensifying elements are found quite often

Examples: I hope you will have the finest weather possible.

Sper ca ve-ti avea cel mai minunat timp posibil.

In Romanian we have the same division of the superlative degree as in English: relative-superlative of superiority and that of inferiority, and absolute superlative.

Examples: El este cel mai sirguincios dintre toti studentii.

El este cel mai putin activ dintre toti studentii.

The absolute superlative in Romanian, as in English, expresses the highest quality without being compared with other objects of the same quality. A number of lexical units are used in this case:

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