Microvariation in Spanish Comparatives

Iván Ortega-Santos


While phrasal comparatives of inequality with the comparative marker que ‘than’ (Pedro es más inteligente que yo ‘Pedro is more intelligent than 1.sg.nom’) have received a fair deal of attention in the study of Spanish (e.g., Bolinger 1950, Plann 1984, Sáez del Álamo 1990, Gutiérrez Ordóñez 1994, Romero Cambrón 1998, Brucart 2003 or Reglero 2007), dialectal variation has not figured prominently in the literature. Microvariation within Chilean Spanish provides evidence for the existence of both a reduced clause analysis and a PP analysis of the que-XP in the context above, as opposed to standard Spanish, where only the former analysis applies. This microvariation is the result of the availability of two distinct lexical entries for que (a pure complementizer vs. a preposition) or lack thereof. The PP analysis is argued to be consistent with the gradual change from de ‘of’ to que in the history of comparatives in Spanish (Romero Cambrón 1998).


phrasal comparatives; microvariation; ellipsis; experimental syntax; Chilean Spanish

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