Erlewine, Michael Yoshitaka, to appear. “Clausal comparison without degree abstraction in Mandarin Chinese.”
Natural Language & Linguistic Theory.

This paper argues (a) that the bǐ comparative construction in Mandarin Chinese is a form of clausal comparative and (b) that Mandarin Chinese lacks abstraction over degree variables. Beck, Oda, and Sugisaki (2004) propose that languages may vary in whether or not they allow for abstraction over degree variables through movement. In previous work, comparatives with clausal standards have been uniformly analyzed cross-linguistically as involving A-movement of a degree operator, and are thereby predicted to not occur in languages without degree abstraction. The paper shows that clausal comparison without degree abstraction is not only theoretically possible but attested, contributing to the cross-linguistic typology of degree constructions. Along the way, I detail the syntactic derivation of bǐ comparatives and the obligatory ellipsis operation (comparative deletion) in their derivation.