Our large cross-linguistic study on the interpretation of quantity superlatives has officially been accepted for publication at Language! We are very excited.
The paper, entitled Universals in Superlative Semantics, and authored by Elizabeth Coppock, Elizabeth Bogal-Allbritten, and Golsa Nouri-Hosseini, reports on the results of a broad cross-linguistic study on the semantics of quantity words such as many in the superlative (e.g. most). While some languages use such a form to express both a relative reading (as in Gloria has visited the most continents) and a proportional reading (as in Gloria has visited most continents), the vast majority do not allow the latter, though all allow the former. It is argued that a degree-quantifier analysis of quantity superlatives is best suited to explain why proportional readings typically do not arise for them. Based on morphosyntactic evidence, two alternative diachronic pathways through which proportional quantifiers may develop from quantity superlatives are identified.
You can read the accepted version here.