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Adjective Comparison in Contemporary British English: A Corpus Study of More than One Hundred Adjectives
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education.
2007 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 points / 15 hpStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

There are mainly two ways of comparing adjectives in English: the analytic and the synthetic. The analytic way is to use more and most (for example difficult, more difficult, most difficult). The synthetic, or inflectional, way is to add the endings –er and –est (for instance fast, faster, fastest). During the last twelve centuries the way of forming comparisons in English has evolved from predominately synthetic to the point where both inflections and analytic forms are used. Today many adjectives are almost always compared either synthetically or analytically (e.g. fast and difficult respectively), but sometimes we have two alternatives; for example, we can choose between more polite and politer. The author has three aims with this paper: firstly, to examine how adjectives in English are compared today; secondly, to determine how well the descriptions in modern grammars agree with authentic written English; thirdly, to see whether there have been any recent changes in the way of indicating comparison. This is a quantitative study. A corpus investigation was undertaken: some one hundred common adjectives in two British newspapers, The Guardian and The Observer, from 1990–91 and 2005 that vary in their way of expressing comparison were studied. The results were compared with six grammars from the last five decades. After the data collection, the chi square test was applied, showing how statistically significant the changes between 1990–91 and 2005 are. Judging from the data in this study, the synthetic comparison seems to be becoming less common. The author also concludes that the comparison of adjectives in contemporary British English varies considerably.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007.
Keywords [en]
Adjective comparison, Present-day British English, Language change, Corpus study
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Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-933OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-933DiVA, id: diva2:6690
Presentation
2007-06-11
Uppsok
humaniora/teologi
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Available from: 2007-06-14 Created: 2007-06-14 Last updated: 2018-01-11

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf