What is the linguistic status of utterances like "The more, the merrier"?

In English it would not be considered a sentence because there is no verb. Yet, it fully stands on its own meaningfully. But it is not a phaticism, or fixed idiom.

Sure, the corresponding phrases in other European languages have similar non-verb structure "je X, desto Y" (Ge), "plus que X, plus que Y".

Also, sure, there are languages that routinely allow non-verb sentences like Inuit (or rather, verbal attributes can be added to nouns)/

Are there other non-verb stand alone quasi-sentences in English? In other mostly strict NP-VP languages?

  • 2
    It's a Construction, like the let alone construction. There are two comparative phrases, which can be shortened, as here. The more, the merrier, in particular, is probably common enough to rate as a fixed phrase idiom, with a conventional meaning, enough so that simply saying the first phrase will invoke the second automatically. As for the question, how do you prove that no word in a fixed phrase in English is a verb? Anything can be verbed in English, and often is. – jlawler Aug 11 '20 at 19:28
  • @jlawler "The more, the merrier" is a very common use of the 'the X-er, the Y-er' pattern: 'the bigger they come the harder they fall' etc. But yes, the verb could be elided or somehow the comparative has somehow been verbified. Or maybe it doesn't really matter if there's no verb (but then there should be more verbless examples, and I guess I'm looking for that in English and in other languages) – Mitch Aug 11 '20 at 21:02
  • That pattern is productive as an adverbial clause: the X-er the better. – Colin Fine Aug 11 '20 at 21:07
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    Non-verbal sentences are common in English, too: “Great! How beautiful!” In the sentences of this kind there's an obvious ellipsis of “it is”, the same thing is with “The more, the merrier” in which “it is” is omitted two times. – Yellow Sky Aug 11 '20 at 21:09
  • In English it would not be considered a sentence because there is no verb - Not being explicitly mentioned does not prevent it from being implied. – Lucian Aug 14 '20 at 4:36

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