Japanese Adjectives in Comparative Form

Toshiko Oda (Tokyo Keizai University and University of Connecticut)

This paper proposes a format of lexical entries for Japanese adjectives. Unlike English adjectives, Japanese adjectives have comparative-like semantics.

(1) [[A]] = λd.λx. x is d-degree A-er

(2) [[nagai]] =λd.λx. x is d-degree longer

This explains numbers of facts. First, non-gradable adjectives are rarely found in Japanese because they are excluded by the format of (1). Second, the equivalent expression of “the rope is 2 meter long” in Japanese means the rope is 2 meter longer. Compositional calculation with (2) provides the correct truth conditions. Third, Beck et al. (2004) argue that Japanese lacks standard more-comparatives. The semantics of comparatives is already built in (1). Thus no further application of a comparative morpheme takes place in syntax in Japanese.