Degrees as kinds vs. degrees as numbers: Evidence from equatives

  • Linmin Zhang


Within formal semantics, there are two views with regard to the ontological status of degrees: the ‘degree-as-number’ view (e.g., Seuren, 1973; Hellan, 1981; von Stechow, 1984) and the ‘degree-as-kind’ view (e.g., Anderson and Morzycki, 2015). Based on (i) empirical distinctions between comparatives and equatives and (ii) Stevens’s (1946) theory on the four levels of measurements, I argue that both views are motivated and needed in accounting for measurement- and comparison-related meanings in natural language. Specifically, I argue that since the semantics of comparatives potentially involves measurable differences, comparatives need to be analyzed based on scales with units, on which degrees are like (real) numbers. In contrast, since equatives are typically used to convey the non-existence of differences, equatives can be based on scales without units, on which degrees can be considered kinds.
How to Cite
Zhang, L. (2020). Degrees as kinds vs. degrees as numbers: Evidence from equatives. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 24(2), 503-520.