The Supercomparative (an adventure in grammar)

A few years ago, it was popular to use the German prefix uber to mean something beyond super.  An example of this use of uber would be that if during the Cold War the USA and the USSR were the two superpowers, then today the USA is the uberpower.  That sort of ridiculous thing.

There is also lurking in the world the word bestest.

One night at a party, my friend Jennq and I were discussing the great potentialities of there being a degree beyond the superlative (good = positive, better = comparative, best = superlative).  If there were, this degree of comparison would, by the above usage of uber be the uberlative.

In a moment of uncontainable geek energy, I proclaimed, “Then bestest is the uberlative of good!”

Jennq and I went to high five; I missed and hit her in the head.

I would like now to posit a fifth degree other than the positive, comparative, superlative, and uberlative.  This is an intermediate degree between the superlative and the uberlative.  I call this degree the supercomparative.

My endlessly-scintillating reading of late has brought me into contact with Albert Blaise’s Manuel du Latin Chretien (you don’t need French to figure that one out).  Blaise makes mention of the use of a comparative based on the superlative.  The best example he provides is from St. Jerome: maximior.

Maximus, as you may know, is the superlative of magnus, which means great.  Now, we may imagine that all Jerome really meant by maximior was maior, greater.  But if a guy means maior, won’t he just write maior?  I reckon as he would.  Clearly maximior is some sort of comparative that is to be considered greater than the average comparative, greater even, I would posit, than the superlative — the supercomparative.

Now, I’m not sure of the English morphology of the supercomparative.  The formation of comparatives and superlatives in Latin is fairly straightforward — indeed, one could even turn maximus into an uberlative, maximissimus.  My conjecture can only get us bester based on the formation of the uberlative bestest.  But bester seems woefully inadequate to me.

Maybe, however, that’s just bester, because I kinda like greatester and biggester.

There you have it, friends.  Nonsense grammar for nonsense words.

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