Double comparatives

Caught in a Lumber Liquidators ad in the New York Times Magazine on January 24, a testimonial from satisfied customer Aurelia C.:

We love our new floor, we couldn’t be any more happier …

A double comparative on the hoof.

MWDEU‘s article on double comparatives notes that

more and most came to be used in intensive function with adjectives already inflected for comparative and superlative” – “the most unkindest cut of all” (Julius Caesar) – from the 14th to the 17th century, after which criticisms by grammarians of the 18th century pretty much wiped it out from standard writing, and “the strictures on the double comparative and superlative became part of every schoolchild’s lessons—and they still are.”

(There’s another type of doubling in things like mostest, bestest, worser.)

Schoolteachers might still be striving to root out doublings, but the evidence from informal writing suggests that intensive more and most are flourishing. Googling on {“any more happier”} (as in the testimonial above), for instance, nets a huge number of examples, especially in negative and interrogative contexts, most of them exclamatory in tone. Apparently, a great many people feel that “I couldn’t be any happier” is insufficiently emphatic, so they need a more to get the full effect.

One Response to “Double comparatives”

  1. More memories « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] expression of comparison on a single word (two types: more happier, mostest — with discussion here). Instead, what Steve produced (no doubt with rehearsal beforehand) has comparative clauses at two […]

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