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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 1999, Vol. 30, No. 4, Pages 543-571
(doi: 10.1162/002438999554200)
© 1999 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The View from the Periphery: The English Comparative Correlative
Article PDF (104.34 KB)

The English comparative correlative construction (e.g., The more you eat, the fatter you get) embeds like an ordinary CP, and each of its clauses displays an ordinary long-distance dependency. However, the connection between the two clauses is not ordinary: they are connected paratactically in syntax, but the first clause is interpreted as if it were a subordinate clause. The construction's mixture of the general and the idiosyncratic at all levels of detail challenges the distinction between “core” and “periphery” in grammar and the assumption that some level of underlying syntax directly mirrors semantic structure.