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 Othello is likened to someone mad, so ‘mad’ is in the qualitative case (abbreviated qual) corresponding to the case of Othello, which is the nominative. As already mentioned, the qualitative cases are marked by adding the secondary case suffix m to the case marker. The 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 object in the primary case, let’s call it the primary object for short, need not be overt; but if it is, we get a qualitative coordination.

lá oqelyqè krègwem.Othello behaves like a mad one (a madman).Othello behaves like mad.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a mad-nom-qualnom2.

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.

And here is the translation promised at the end of the previous unit.

ganá byè spèjem.The woman sings like a sad one.The woman sings sadly.
sing-fact1 female-acc-nom2a sad-nom-qualnom2.

Compared and comparing sentences

A good concept for analysing a sentence with one or more qualitative objects is to think of it as comprising two different sentences: the compared sentence, which describes the world of the parole (i.e., it is grammatically real), and the comparing sentence, which describes the hypothetical world in which all the bases of comparison (the qualitative objects) are located. This is the comparing world. Take the Othello example:

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

The compared sentence is the part without the qualitative objects, but including the primary objects (both overt and missing per Rule Six). It is part of the original one – which therefore actually claims that Othello shows some behaviour per Rule Seven.

The comparing sentence is parallel to the compared one, but all the primary objects are replaced with the corresponding qualitative objects (both overt and missing) in the primary cases. It does not actually occur in the original one because all the cases have changed. The original sentence does not claim that a madman shows some behaviour; the behaviour of any madmen is not instantiated by its main predicate, 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, the existence of madmen who show some specific behaviour is pragmatically real.)

If the qualitative objects’ predicate (call it P) is not the main predicate, an inversion tells us that P’s predicate is not part of the comparing sentence unless P has an inner qualitative case. (See below.) Likewise, if P is a compound, the modifier isn’t part of the comparing sentence unless the epenthetic case is a qualitative, as can be seen by uncompounding.

The case descriptors ensure that the qualitative objects 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?

lá oqelyqè kregwèm màxkOl.Othello behaves like mad because of a lie.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a mad-nom-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2.

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

behaveOthello because of a lie
Roderigo because of X
lá oqelyqè roderigycèm maxkÒl mÌjdOlm.(different reasons)Othello behaves because of a lie like Roderigo because of the wine.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 wine-acc-qualpsu2.
lá oqelyqè roderigycèm maxkÒl gwÌOlm.(explicitly no reason for Roderigo given)Because of a lie, Othello behaves like Roderigo.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 any-acc-qualpsu2.
lá oqelyqè roderigycèm maxkÒl àOlm.(identical lie)Othello behaves like Roderigo because of the [same] lie.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 PIIn-fact-qualpsu2.

Circumventing identity of action; inner qualitative

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.

nágw veì myjdÌ viìm jÌskym.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.
nágw veì mÌjdy. ^ 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: nágw veì mÌjdy. nágw viì jÌsky. drink-fact1 PIn−2-nom-dat2a wine-acc-acc2. drink-fact1 PIn−2-dat-dat2a beer-acc-acc2..

Now we also have a use for the inner qualitative. Watch the following construction unfold.

fkrìlj tyÌ veÙ RajgneÌm vìUm.(circumventing Rule Four for your, the dead, tortoise)This tortoise is mine, like the dead one is yours.
tortoise-cons1 this-acc-acc2 PIn−2-nom-ben2 live-fact-not-nom-qualacc2 PIn−2-dat-qualben2.
Rajgnà fkrÌmje tyÌ zeÙ zìUm.
live-fact-not-fact1 tortoise-qualacc-nom2 this-acc-acc3 PIn−3-nom-ben3 PIn−3-dat-qualben3.
Now we move ‘this [is] my tortoise’ (the second to fourth words) to a separate sentence and refer to it with a pronoun:
fkrìlj tyÌ vèU. Rajgnà fÌme zìUm.This is my tortoise. 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.

Pronouns with inner qualitatives have to refer directly, not via the predicate: exchanging ‘tortoise’ and ‘this’ in the above sentences eliminates the tortoise from the comparing sentence, so we would arrive at ‘This is my tortoise. **Your this one is dead’. Also, objects of such pronouns need outer qualitative cases because they refer to the pronoun’s stem by Rule Three of sentence grammar, which is not part of the comparing world: in our example, ‘you’ needs a qualitative benefactive because the pronoun refers to the making of my tortoise.

Continuing the examples from the previous chapter, we can now circumvent the lie’s identity with an inner qualitative, expressing that Roderigo’s behaviour is motivated by a different lie than Othello’s.

lá oqelyqè roderigycèm maxkÒl àmOlm.Othello behaves like Roderigo because of a different lie.
do-fact1 Othello-acc-nom2a Roderigo-acc-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2 PIIn-qualfact-qualpsu2.
nágw veìm gwalpyèr Ìmerm.(Compare ‘She is drinking from a different cup’.)She is drinking from a different cup than me.
drink-fact1 PIn−2-nom-qualdat2a cup-acc-ela2 PIIn-qualacc-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
mìljd nýgwy zeí ýmym zìim.(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-qualdat3a.
mìljd nýgwy zeì ziím Ìmym.(moving ‘you’ to the other ‘drinking’ without leaving the comparing world)
wine-cons1 drink-acc-acc2 PIn−3-nom-dat3a PIn−3-dat-qualdat3 PIIn-qualacc-qualacc2.
nágw veì viìm mÌjdy (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 world can be dangerous: the first of the above sentences has the object ‘drunk by you’ in the qualitative accusative; therefore the comparison refers to the wine-making with regard to its content (the wine). In the second and third sentences ‘you’ is in the qualitative dative and so compares the drinking with regard to its recipient. However, the combined facts that the qualitative accusative 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 – unless the lexicon already contains a word for that negation. ‘against’ in the sense of opposing something is translated likewise.

iá desdemonyè oqelyqì bilàOlm psrÌbe 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.
vàsk jirxì nìlelm xiskrùcy.He got lost (erred in the end point of his movement) as if the cause was that no compass existed.He got lost despite his compass.
err-fact1 move-ill-dat2 not-cons-qualcaus2 compass-ins-acc3.
là crywkÌOlm.He is acting like / as if because of the opposite law. (modified object)He is acting against the law.
do-fact1 law-acc-opposition-acc-qualpsu2.

Adjectives, attributes and approximations

Adjectives of comparison and similar attributes are formed straightforwardly with qualitative brackets, as are approximations.

zvèc psrèbem.a friend like a father (but see Adjectives of possession)a paternal friend
friend-nom1 father-nom-qualnom2.
RÌcj snÌwym.coloured like snowsnow-coloured, snow-white
colour-acc1 snow-acc-qualacc2.
bÌ iìym oqelÌqe.a woman like the one loved by Othello; a woman like the beloved of Othello
female-acc1 love-dat-qualacc2 Othello-acc-nom3.
sklÌxt skmÌym.rooms like 256about/approximately 256 rooms
room-acc1 256-acc-qualacc2.

These brackets can be interpreted as absorptions of qualitative coordinations: mìl RycjÌ snÌwym. make-cons1 colour-acc-acc2 snow-acc-qualacc2. ‘There is something coloured like snow’, mìl byÌym oqelÌqe. make-cons1 female-acc-acc2 love-dat-qualacc2 Othello-acc-nom3. ‘There is a woman like the one loved by Othello’.

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

là kregwèn màxkOl.là kregwèm màxkOl.
do-fact1 mad-nom-partnom2 lie-fact-psu2.do-fact1 mad-nom-qualnom2 lie-fact-psu2.
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.


Verbs of comparison

Three weighting numerals serve as verbs of comparison. The first is the most general one, ràw. ‘make some amount’, while the other two are sub-category words of it.

quantitative verbràw.amountto make some amount
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. Like other weighting numerals, ‘more’ and ‘most’ are often combined with abstract nouns with an inner consecutive, such as ‘beauty’, or factive, such as ‘wit’.

rÌw priljÌ màskym.an amount of beauty like [the one] of witas much beauty as wit
amount-acc1 beautiful-cons-acc2 wit-fact-qualacc2.
tÌcd priljÌ màskym.more beauty than wit*
more-acc1 beautiful-cons-acc2 wit-fact-qualacc2.
tÌcd prìljy(n).more (of the) beauty
more-acc1 beautiful-cons-(part)acc2.
Ìst prìljy(n).most (of the) beauty
most-acc1 beautiful-cons-(part)acc2.
We can now topicalise and compound, resulting in the familiar epenthetic consecutive:
tìlcd prìljy.The beauty is (something that is) more.
more-cons1 beautiful-cons-acc2.
priljtÌcd.the more beautiful one, more beautiful
ìlst prìljy.The beauty is (something that is) most.
most-cons1 beautiful-cons-acc2.
priljÌst.the most beautiful one, most beautiful

* ‘more’ with a qualitative object is about the only situation where the concept of compared and comparing sentences isn’t helpful, and we have to return to the basics, i.e. resort to the case descriptors: the wit is the basis of comparison for the content of making more, the beauty. A bit abstract, I know.


The difference between likening quality and quantity is purely semantic. The first, so to say, is multi-dimensional, while the latter is one-dimensional. Therefore, simple positive comparisons of adjectives or other words that can be weighted on a linear scale are constructed exactly like comparisons of quality.

ìlfx pqxaryÌ Ìkym.Fantasy has a density like air.Fantasy is as thin as air.
dense-cons1 fantasy-acc-acc2 air-acc-qualacc2.

However, adjectives are not always unambiguously one-dimensional: to distinguish ‘as beautiful as’ from ‘beautiful in the same way’, we use the compound priljrìlw. beautiful-cons-amount-cons1. ‘some amount of beauty’. The same goes for ‘We rowed [as much, as hard] as we have never rowed before’ vs. ‘We rowed [in a way] like we have never rowed before’.

If the adjective to compare is not the main predicate, we can often use the construction for object comparison, 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. Sentences with ‘as much as’ use the phrasing from the previous chapter, resulting in a third-level qualitative object.

wrágc romeycÌ ksmysÌm krÌxta [vàmym].Romeo climbs as nimbly as a squirrel.
climb-fact1 Romeo-acc-acc2a squirrel-acc-qualacc2 nimble-acc-fact2 [PIn−2-qualfact-qualacc3].
dá kapulytè rÌwy yvÌ nÌgwym.Capulet gave us as much food as drink.
give-fact1 Capulet-acc-nom2a amount-acc-acc2 eat-acc-acc3 drink-acc-qualacc3.

Attributes are qualitative brackets.

nrá Ìxe mèvy cènem.Men as wise as we keep the peace.
peace-fact1 male-acc-nom2a wise-nom-acc3 PIn−4-partnom-qualnom4.

Lastly, ‘not as fast as’ is translated with a comparative (‘less fast’, see below) since the negation of ‘as fast as’ means ‘not equal in speed; either faster or slower’.


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

fattécd Ìhwe tÌy.(The horse is the source of the speed; see Adjectives.)the faster one, this horse
fast-fact-more-nom1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3.
fattácd Ìhwe tÌy.This horse is faster.
fast-fact-more-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3.
With a qualitative object:
fattácd Ìhwe tyý Ìmem napolÌUm.(incidentally also having an inner qualitative)This horse is faster than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-fact-more-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualnom2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fattácd Ìhwe tyý jnÌem.This horse is faster than all [others, other horses, animals, etc.].
fast-fact-more-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3 1/1-acc-qualnom2.

This is yet another example of Rule Two (an object is a subordinate word plus all of its own objects): the object of ‘more’ 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 last 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:
fattilcdká Ìhwe tyý Ìmem napolÌUm.This horse is not as fast as / less fast than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-fact-more-cons-opposition-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualnom2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fattilcdcrá Ìhwe tyý Ìmem napolÌUm.This horse is a bit faster than the Neapolitan’s.
fast-fact-more-cons-1/4-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualnom2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
fatdwá Ìhwe tyý Ìmem 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-fact-two-fact1 horse-acc-nom2a this-acc-acc3 PIIn-qualacc-qualnom2 Neapolitan-acc-qualben3.
Comparing words other than adjectives:
latácd napolyè waxà làam.(The desorption removes ‘speak’ from the comparing sentence.)The Neapolitan talks more than he acts.
do-fact-more-fact1 Neapolitan-acc-nom2a speak-fact-fact2 do-fact-qualfact2.
dwacjtàcd krùta tyý ùswam {fÌy}.(The enthusiasm is the means of hunting.)These [things] are are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.
enthusiasm-fact-more-fact1 hunt-ins-fact2 this-acc-acc3 enjoy-ins-qualfact2 {PIIn−1-acc-acc3}.

Applying the construction from above, we see that the comparison verb ends up in an object. There is no ambiguity here as to what is compared, so we omit the qualitative pronoun.

wrágc romeycÌ ksmysÌm kraxttÌcda.Romeo climbs more nimbly than a squirrel.
climb-fact1 Romeo-acc-acc2a squirrel-acc-qualacc2 nimble-fact-more-acc-fact2.

Attributes are of course brackets.

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

nená yhwÌ fÌta.
run-fact1 horse-acc-acc2a fast-acc-fact2.
rìlw giljdÌ fàtym nenáy Ìhwy.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-fact-qualacc2 run-fact-acc3 horse-acc-acc4a.


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

maskást botmybè (wmèben).Bottom is the wittiest (of the weavers).
Bottom is the wittiest weaver.
wit-fact-most-fact1 Bottom-acc-nom2a (weave-nom-partnom2).

The accusative object of àst. 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.

maskést wmèben.the wittiest one from the set of weaversthe wittiest weaver
wit-fact-most-nom1 weave-nom-partnom2a.
maskést wmèbe.the wittiest one, who is a weaver
wit-fact-most-nom1 weave-nom-nom2a.

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 of weight 1, jnà..

maskjnè.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 mesortÌ. ‘native’.)
The woman builds a bridge as quickly as the beaver a dam.Solve
The woman 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 rywtìlcd —?Solve
In translating ‘Fantasy is as thin as air’, how would we include the information that fantasy and air are very thin?Solve