Sailer & Lamoure at HPSG 2023

Manfred Sailer and Nicolas Lamoure (Frankfurt a.M.) presented a paper on “Superlative ‘ever’ in Dutch, French, German, and Spanish” at the 30th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 2023.  Manfred and Nicolas look at the use of English ever in emphatic superlatives as in (1) in two Germanic and two Romance languages:

(1) a. nl: de beste opmerking ever ‘the best comment ever’
       b. de: bestes Bild ever ‘best picture ever’
       c. fr: la meilleure idée ever  ‘the best idea ever’
       d. es: la mejor foto ever ‘the best picture ever’

They propose a three stage borrowing process:

  • First, a constructional borrowing, which may include English adjectives and nouns.
  • Second, a blend between the matrix language construction and the English construction, which still conserves ever as an English word.
  • Third,  the word ever turns into a lexical borrowing and is, then, freely compatible with all constructions that allow matrix language emphatic superlative expressions such as German aller Zeiten ‘of all times.’

The analysis is expressed within the modelling of social meaning proposed in Asadpour et al. 2022. It is a further develpment of Manfred and Nicolas’ presentation at a DGfS workshop structural borrowing earlier this year.



Asadpour, Hiwa & Hassan, Shene & Sailer, Manfred. 2022. Non-wh relatives in English and Kurdish: Constraints on grammar and use. Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 6–26. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2022.1) (