## Friday, August 5, 2011

### Superlative Math

Yesterday I used the term superlative when speaking of the last 3 blog posts. When I said it, I meant we were examining objects at the extreme ends of a spectrum (longest, tallest, quietest, etc.). The whole idea of comparing multiple items is a fundamental part of MATH. Even our Kindergarten Excel Math elementary curriculum starts out with comparison words.

This morning I started researching the concept of superlative:

DEFINITION: the highest degree attainable, meaning of the highest kind or quality; surpassing all others; supreme, extreme

ORIGIN: The word came into English from Latin, via Olde French, about 625 years ago.

PRONUNCIATION: soop'erluhtiv

HYPHENATION:  su-per-la-tive  with 11 letters and 4 syllables

SYNONYMS: acme, height, elevation, peak, pinnacle, summit, top

SLANG SYNONYMS: A-OK, awesome, boss, cool, fab, fantabulous, gangbusters, groovy, numero uno, No. 1, out of sight, phat, prize-winning, rad, righteous, sick, top-notch, unsurpassed, wizard

As you may know, the superlative describes a part of our grammar. Sometimes it's hard to understand (our own) grammar, so I went over and did a lesson on superlatives at Study Spanish.com. Here's a snippet:

GRAMMATICAL:
We use superlatives to compare things. There are two types of superlative: relative and absolute.
Relative: John is the smartest boy in the class.
Absolute: John is very smart.
The relative superlative describes a noun within the context of a group of 3 or more things:
John is the smartest boy in the class; or Of the three, Manny is the meanest.
The absolute superlative describes a noun that is not in the context of a group:
John is very smart; The book is extremely expensive
In English, a relative superlative is formed by using the word "most" or the ending "-est."
Jose is the most intelligent boy in the class; Maria is the smartest girl in the class.
In Spanish, a relative superlative combines an article with mas or menos then adds an adjective and de
Juan es el chico más inteligente de la clase; John is the smartest boy in the class.
Bill Gates es el hombre más rico de los EEUU; Bill Gates is the richest man in the US
In Spanish, an absolute superlative may be formed in one of 3 ways - muy and adjective or sumamente and adjective or adjective and ísimo. Each of these is a little stronger than the preceding one; so -ísimo means a superlative superlative!
muy guapo; very handsome
sumamente guapo; extremely handsome
guapísimo; indescribably handsome
EXAMPLE:
Since this is a MATH blog, I'd better end with some numbers, right? Here is a superlative table of astronomical data.

 Unit of Comparison Earth Mars Jupiter Superlative sentence Planet Diameter (km) 12,760 6,790 142,800 Jupiter is biggest. Distance from Sun (million km) 150 228 778 Jupiter is most distant from the Sun. Length of day (hours) 24 25 10 Jupiter has the shortest day. Number of Moons 1 2 16 Jupiter has the most moons. Surface Temp. (°Celsius) 22 -23 -150 Jupiter is coldest.