lemÌc. Lemizh grammar and dictionary

Unit 11. Comparison

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
  And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
  As any she belied with false compare.

(William Shakespeare. Sonnet 130)


In this chapter we will discuss sentences comparing a quality, such as ‘Othello behaves like mad’. Here ‘like mad’ is the comparing object, and ‘Othello’ is the compared object. In Lemizh, the comparing object is in the qualitative case (abbreviated qual) corresponding to the case of the compared object. As already mentioned, the qualitative cases are marked by adding the secondary case suffix m to the case marker. The case descriptors for qualitative cases are (and the insertion is explained in the following chapter) ‘the basis of comparison – located in the same hypothetical world as all others – for the sender (recipient, place, etc.)’. The compared object need not be overt, but if it is, we get a qualitative coordination.

  behaveá otelytè madèem.Othello behaves like a mad one (a madman).Othello behaves like mad.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a mad-nom-qualnom2.

Note that the madman is the basis of comparison for the sender of behaving, not the basis of comparison for the sender of behaving (= Othello). What is compared is the behaviour (of Othello) with regard to its sender; Othello isn’t in any way like a madman, except for his behaviour.

Compared and comparing sentences

Taking the example above, we are actually dealing with two sentences: the compared sentence, which describes the real world, and the comparing sentence, which describes the hypothetical world in which all the bases for comparison (the comparing objects) are located. This is the comparing world.

behaveOthello(compared sentence: includes compared object):‘Othello behaves’, ‘Othello shows [some] behaviour’
madman(comparing sentence: includes comparing object):‘A madman behaves’, ‘A madman shows [some] behaviour’

The compared sentence is the part without the comparing object, but including the compared object (overt or not). The compared sentence is part of the original one – we actually claim that Othello shows some behaviour per Rule Seven.

The comparing sentence is parallel to the compared one, but the compared object is replaced with the comparing object in the primary (non-qualitative) case. The comparing sentence does not actually occur in the original one, which, while it contains the comparing object, has it in the qualitative. The grammar does not claim that a madman shows some behaviour; the behaviour of any madmen is not instantiated by the main predicate of the original sentance, it is only as if it happened. Trying to rephrase a sentence with an ‘as if’-clause is a good way to find out which part is translated as a qualitative object corresponding to which primary object: ‘Othello-nom shows behaviour as if he were a madman-qualnom’. (Of course, we can conclude from the semantics the existence of madmen who show some specific behaviour.)

If a sentence contains more than one qualitative object, the descriptors ensure that they all refer to the same comparing world, as there is only one.

Objects in comparisons

What about primary objects that are not matched by their qualitative counterparts, such as the persuasive in the following example?

  behaveá otelytè madeèm lieàOl.Othello behaves like mad because of a lie.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a mad-nom-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2.

The qualitative persuasive is missing, so we do not know what the reason in the comparing world is. As the madmen are hypothetical, it does not really matter why they are showing some behaviour; but if Othello behaves like Roderigo, we might need an additional qualitative object to specify.

behaveOthello because of a lie
Roderigo because of X
behaveá otelytè roderigycèm lieaÒl wineÌOlm.(different reasons)Othello behaves because of a lie like Roderigo because of the wine.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 wine-acc-qualpsu2.
behaveá otelytè roderigycèm lieaÒl gwÌOlm.(explicitly no reason for Roderigo given)Because of a lie, Othello behaves like Roderigo.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 any-acc-qualpsu2.
behaveá otelytè roderigycèm lieaÒl àOlm.(identical lie)Othello behaves like Roderigo because of the (same) lie.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 PIIn-fact-qualpsu2.

Circumventing identity of action; inner qualitative

Taking this one step further, qualitative cases can also be used to circumvent Rule Four, i.e. for not implying identity. There are two different actions of drinking in each of the following examples, one not instantiated.

  drinká veì wineyÌ viìm beerÌym.I am drinking wine like you beer.I am drinking wine, you beer.
drink-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2a wine-acc-acc2 PIn−2-dat-qualdat2 beer-acc-qualacc2.
drinká veì wineÌy. ^ á vèim.I am drinking wine. — Like me.I am drinking wine. — Me too.
drink-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2a wine-acc-acc2. — PIIn-fact1 PIn−2-nom-qualdat2a.

These examples imply that the two actions of drinking are in some way alike. This is a pretty weak statement, but if it is still undesirable, the drinking has to be explicitly instantiated twice: drinká veì wineyÌ. drinká viì beerÌy..

The inner qualitative in the following example is explained below.

tortoiseìl tyÌ vèU. Rajgnà fÌme zìUm.This tortoise is mine. Yours is dead.
tortoise-cons1 this-acc-acc2 PIn−2-nom-ben2. live-fact-not-fact1 PIIn−1-qualacc-nom2 PIn−3-dat-qualben3.
làgc flÌci.… And the blue one is resting.
rest-fact1 blue-acc-dat2.

If we replace the first pronoun in the sentence ‘Yours is dead’ with its target phrase tortoiseÌ tyÌ vèU. ‘this, my tortoise’ and invert, we arrive at tortoiseìl tyÌ veÙ liveaneÌmUm. ‘This tortoise is mine, (like) the dead one is yours’. Pronouns with inner qualitatives have to refer directly, not via the predicate: exchanging ‘tortoise’ and ‘this’ the first sentence gives us tìl tortoiseyÌ veÙ liveanaÌmUm., eliminating the tortoise from the comparing sentence, which now means **‘Your this one is dead’.

Continuing the examples from the previous chapter, we can now express that Roderigo’s behaviour is motivated by a lie with an inner qualitative, or by a different lie with an additional modified object – but let’s omit the unnecessary pronoun.

  behaveá otelytè roderigycèm lieaÒl àmOlm.Othello behaves like Roderigo because of a [presumably different] lie.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 PIIn-qualfact-qualpsu2.
behaveá otelytè roderigycèm lieaÒl [amÒlm] anàOlm.… because of a lie, not the same as before.Othello behaves like Roderigo because of a different lie.
behave-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 [PIIn-qualfact-qualpsu2] PIIn-fact-not-fact-qualpsu2.
  drinkà glassyèr [ymèrm] ynÌerm.She is drinking from a glass like me, but not the same one.
(Compare ‘She is drinking from a different glass’.)
She is drinking from a different glass than me.
drink-fact1 glass-acc-ela2 [PIIn-qualacc-qualela2] PIIn-acc-not-acc-qualela2.

Referring the comparison to an object

As we have seen, the comparison by definition refers to the qualitative object’s predicate. But what if we want to relate the comparison to an object, as in ‘I am drinking a wine like [the one] you [are drinking]’ as opposed to ‘I am drinking wine like you [are drinking wine]’? We start with a sentence that has the wine as its main predicate, and then rearrange to make ‘drink’ the main predicate, arriving at a phrasing that differs from the simple ‘I am drinking wine like you’ only by an additional pronoun.

winedrunk by me
drunk by you
  wineìl drinkýy zeí ýmym zìi.(inner qualitative to save a second instance of ‘drink’)The wine drunk by me is like the wine drunk by you.
wine-cons1 drink-acc-acc2 PIn−3-nom-dat3a PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2 PIn−3-dat-dat3a.
wineìl drinkýy zeì ziím Ìmym.(moving ‘you’ inside the comparing sentence)
wine-cons1 drink-acc-acc2 PIn−3-nom-dat3a PIn−3-dat-qualdat3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2.
drinká veì viìm wineÌy (vÌmym).I am drinking a wine like [the one] you [are drinking].
drink-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2a PIn−2-dat-qualdat2 wine-acc-acc2 (PIn−2-qualacc-qualacc3).

Moving an object inside the comparing sentence can be dangerous: the first of the above sentences refers the comparison triggered by the object ‘drunk by you’ to the wine-making with regard to its content (the wine), while in the second and third ‘you’ compares the drinking with regard to its recipient. However, the combined facts that the qualitative object of ‘wine’ is still in place, and that there is only one comparing world, create a cross-link between ‘you’ and the comparison of the wine. The object of ‘wine’ is of course omitted if the target of the comparison is clear from context.

‘despite’ and ‘against’

The prepositions ‘despite’ and ‘in spite of’ are translated with a qualitative case, often a causative or persuasive, meaning ‘like/as if for a reason X’. Lemizh does not say ‘despite the (actual) reason’ but ‘like without this reason / as if this reason didn’t exist’ or ‘as if there were the opposite reason’. Hence we need to negate the object in some way. Unless the lexicon contains a word for that negation, a modified object is appropriate here. ‘against’ in the sense of opposing something is translated likewise.

  loveá desdemonyè otelytì approveàOlm fatherÌe zèe.Desdemona loves Othello like with her father’s approval / as if her father approved.Desdemona loves Othello despite her father’s objections.
love-fact1 Desdemona-acc-nom2a Othello-acc-dat2 approve-fact-qualpsu2 father-acc-nom3 PIn−3-nom-nom4.
getlostà compassynìlnelm.He got lost like without a compass /as if he had no compass (as if the consequence of not making a compass were the cause).He got lost despite his compass.
getlost-fact1 compass-acc-not-partcons-qualcaus2.
lawykÌOlm.He is acting like / as if because of the opposite law.He is acting against the law.
do-fact1 law-acc-opposition-acc-qualpsu2.

An alternative translation of ‘despite’ is with tmÌ. ‘but’: ‘Desdemona’s father objects but she loves Othello [nonetheless]’. This can be useful because the above construction doesn’t necessarily mark the qualitative object as irreal.

Adjectives and attributes

Adjectives of comparison and similar attributes are formed straightforwardly with qualitative brackets. Compounding is also an option.

  friendè fatherèem.a friend like a father (but see Adjectives of possession)a paternal friend
friend-nom1 father-nom-qualnom2.
colourÌ snowÌym. colourymsnowÌ.coloured like snowsnow-coloured, snow-white
colour-acc1 snow-acc-qualacc2. colour-qualacc-snow-acc1.
femaleÌ loveìym otelÌte.a woman like the beloved of Othello; a woman like the one loved by Othello
female-acc1 love-dat-qualacc2 Othello-acc-nom3.

These brackets can be interpreted as absorptions of qualitative coordinations: mìl colouryÌ snowÌym. ‘There is something coloured like snow’, mìl femaleyÌ loveìym otelÌte. ‘There is a woman like the one loved by Othello’; only that the comparisons refer to the absorbed words.

A ‘chocolate/toy rabbit’ is chocolate or a toy like a rabbit (as opposed to a chocolate cake, which is a materials construction).

Comparison of partitive and qualitative cases

behaveà madn lieàOl.behaveà madm lieàOl.
A set of madmen, containing a subset of one showing some behaviour becaue of a lieA set of madmen, adjcent to a set of one showing some behaviour becaue of a lie
Some (or one) of the madmen show some behaviour because of a lie.Someone behaves like mad because of a lie.

The darker shaded areas represent what the sentences claim per Rule Seven. The areas in the right-hand image touch to symbolise that they are alike but don’t overlap – it is only as if they did.



The difference between qualitative and quantitative comparison is only semantic. The first, so to say, is multi-dimensional, while the latter is one-dimensional. It typically compares adjectives or other words that can be weighted, but not all adjectives are unambiguously one-dimensional: distinguishing ‘beautiful in the same way’ (qualitative comparison) and ‘as beautiful as’ (positive comparison) needs a trick we will learn further down in this unit.

  thicky1/4ìl fantasyyÌ airÌym.Fantasy is as thin as air.
thick-acc-1/4-cons1 fantasy-acc-acc2 air-acc-qualacc2.

If the adjective to compare is not the main predicate, we can often use the construction for object comparison described above (typically with a factive bracket, i.e. an adverbially used adjective); the qualitative pronoun can and should be omitted if it is clear what is compared. Sometimes an inversion makes the adjective the main predicate. A third possibility is the qualitative being a third-level object of the adjective.

nimbleìl climbáy romeycÌ ksmysým àmym. climbá romeycÌ ksmysÌm nimbleÌa [vàmym].Romeo climbs as nimbly as a squirrel.
nimble-cons1 climb-fact-acc2 Romeo-acc-acc3a squirrel-acc-qualacc3 PIIn-qualfact-qualacc2. climb-fact1 Romeo-acc-acc2a squirrel-acc-qualacc2 nimble-acc-fact2 [PIn−2-qualfact-qualacc3].
bridgeá veè vièm lÌxwy. láxw veè vièm bridgeÌy.I build as green a bridge as you.
bridge-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a PIn−2-dat-qualnom2 green-acc-acc2. green-fact1 PIn−2-nom-nom2a PIn−2-dat-qualnom2 bridge-acc-acc2.
dá kapulytè amountÌy yvÌ3 drinkyým3 vèni.Capulet gave us as much food as drink.
give-fact1 Capulet-acc-nom2a amount-acc-acc2 eat-acc-acc3 drink-acc-qualacc3 PIn−2-partnom-dat2.

Attributes are qualitative brackets.

  peacefulíl maleÌy wiseÌy cènym.Men as wise as if they were us are peaceful. (agentive)Men as wise as we keep the peace.
peaceful-cons1 male-acc-acc2a wise-acc-acc3 PIn−4-partnom-qualacc4.

Lastly, ‘not as wise as’ is translated with a comparative (‘less wise’, see below) since the negation of ‘as wise as’ means ‘not equal in wisdom; either wiser or sillier’.

Verbs of comparison

Two adjectival verbs serve as verbs of comparison. Both are sub-category verbs of amountà..

comparative verbtàcd.moreto make more, to make a larger amount
superlative verbàst.mostto make the most, to make the largest amount

A simple application of these verbs is their – adjectival – use in (cumulative or partitive) brackets.

  moreÌ yvÌ (drinkÌym).more food (than drink)
more-acc1 eat-acc-acc2 (drink-acc-qualacc2).
moreÌ Ìvyn.more of the food
more-acc1 eat-acc-partacc2.
mostÌ Ìvyn.most [of the] food
most-acc1 eat-acc-partacc2.

Like the weighting numerals and negators in the chapter on weighted words (which are also sub-category verbs of amountà.), verbs of comparison are often combined with abstract nouns based on adjectival verbs. From such constructions, we can derive adverbial usage of ‘more’ and ‘most’ by topicalisation, inversion and compounding.

  moreÌ beautifulìly.more beauty
more-acc1 beautiful-cons-acc2.
moreìl beautifulìly.The beauty is (something that is) more.
more-cons1 beautiful-cons-acc2.
beautifulÌ moreÌil.the more beautiful one, more beautiful
beautiful-acc1 more-acc-cons2.
  mostìl beautifulìly.The beauty is (something that is) most.
most-cons1 beautiful-cons-acc2.
beautifulÌ mostÌil.the most beautiful one, most beautiful
beautiful-acc1 most-acc-cons2.


Let us now proceed to comparative sentences. The simplest of these are just basic comparisons such as the ones with moreà. above. What we get is essentially like predicate adjectives.

  fastilmoreÌ Ìhwy tÌy.(appositive)the faster one, this horse
fast-cons-more-acc1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3.
fastilmoreìl Ìhwy tÌy.(stative verb ‘is’)This horse is faster.
fast-cons-more-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3.
  With a comparing object:
fastilmoreìl Ìhwy tyý Ìmym napolÌUm.(incidentally also having an inner qualitative)This horse is faster than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-cons-more-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fastilmoreìl Ìhwy tyý 1/1Ìym.This horse is faster than all [others, other horses, animals, etc.].
fast-cons-more-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3 1/1-acc-qualacc2.

This is yet another example of Rule Two (an object is a subordinate word plus all of its own objects): the object of moreà. is not ‘fast’ but ‘This horse is as fast as the Neapolitan’s’ or, translating the consecutive as an abstract noun, ‘the speed of this horse as if it were the Neapolitan’s’, ‘the speed of this horse in comparison to the Neapolitan’s’ – so the sentence literally means ‘The speed of this horse in comparison to the Neapolitan’s is more’. In the second example, ‘others’ is omitted because it is clear from context: the horse cannot be faster than itself anyway.

  Here are some variants, the last being an analogy in which the comparative verb has been replaced with a numeral:
fastilmoreilkìl Ìhwy tyý Ìmym napolÌUm.This horse is not as fast as / less fast than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-cons-more-cons-opposition-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fastilmoreil1/4ìl Ìhwy tyý Ìmym napolÌUm.This horse is a bit faster than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-cons-more-cons-1/4-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fastildwìl Ìhwy tyý Ìmym napolÌUm.The ‘speeds’ of this horse in comparison to the Neapolitan’s are two.This horse is twice as fast as the Neapolitan’s.
fast-cons-two-cons1 horse-acc-acc2 this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
  Comparing words other than adjectives:
lamoreà speakaà làam.(The desorption removes ‘talk’ from the comparing sentence.)He talks more than he acts.
do-fact-more-fact1 speak-fact-fact2 do-fact-qualfact2.
spiritymoreìl krùty tyí enjoyùym {fÌy}.(The spirit is the means of hunting.)These [things] are are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.
spirit-acc-more-cons1 hunt-ins-acc2 this-acc-dat3 enjoy-ins-qualacc2 {PIIn−1-acc-acc3}.

Attributes are of course brackets.

‘the … the’, expressing a parallel between comparatives, translates as a positive comparison, often of abstract nouns.

  runá horsefastÌa.
run-fact1 horse-acc-acc2a fast-acc-fact2.
amountìl goodilÌ fastìlym runáy horseÌy.The goodness is as much as the speed of the horse running.The faster the horse runs, the better.
amount-cons1 good-cons-acc2 fast-cons-qualacc2 run-fact-acc3 horse-acc-acc4a.

Being a weighting numeral, amountà. used like moreÌ. can specify one-dimensionality to distinguish ‘as beautiful as’ from ‘beautiful in the same way’, or ‘Row [as much, as hard] as you’ve never rowed before’ from ‘Row [in a way] like you’ve never rowed before’.


Again, we make use of the constructions described above, this time with the superlative verb mostà.. A qualitative coordination is not very helpful here; but a partitive one can define the basic set for the comparison.

  wittyilmostìl botmybè (weaveèen).Bottom is the wittiest (of the weavers).
Bottom is the wittiest weaver.
witty-cons-most-cons1 Bottom-acc-nom2 (weave-nom-partnom2).

The accusative object of mostà. is ‘Bottom is a witty one from the set of weavers’, or as an abstract noun ‘the wit of Bottom from the set of weavers’; yielding ‘The wit of Bottom from the set of weavers is the most’.

With superlative attributes, note (again) the difference between partitive and cumulative brackets.

  wittyilmostè weaveèen.the wittiest one from the set of weaversthe wittiest weaver
witty-cons-most-nom1 weave-nom-partnom2.
wittyilmostè weaveèe.the wittiest one, who is a weaver
witty-cons-most-nom1 weave-nom-nom2.

The Indo-European superlative can also express a high degree instead of a comparison (‘I have had a most rare vision’ = ‘I have had an extremely rare vision’). This usage is known as the elative (not to be confused with the elative case, which describes the starting point of an action) and is translated with the weighting numeral 1/1à..

  wittyil1/1è.wittiest, extremely witty


Othello behaves like Roderigo does because of a lie.
(The lie is Roderigo’s reason, not Othello’s.)
Desdemona loves Othello despite his foreignness.
(Use the verb nativeà..)
The woman builds a bridge as quickly as the beaver a dam.Solve
He has got a horse faster than the Neapolitan’s.Solve
The more the horse eats, the slower it is.Solve
Thou hast got more hair on thy chin than my horse has on his tail.Solve
  Why didn’t we translate the last exercise (as well as ‘more spirit’) with amountymoreìl —.?Solve