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I was reading an article about a German long-jumper who has an artificial leg but won the regular long-jumping event. Now people are discussing whether his artificial leg gave him an advantage.

Nicht wenige hatten Markus Rehm einen Sensations-Sprung gewünscht: mit dem Hintergedanken, dass ein überlegen weiter Flug - am besten auf die noch nie erreichte Weite von neun Meter - die Prothese als Hilfsmittel diskreditiert.

Why is it "ein überlegen weiter Flug" instead of "ein überlegener weiterer Flug"?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

In "ein weiter Flug", "weiter" is an adjective, and "überlegen" is an adverb. The adverb is used attributively to modify the adjective, and in this case it does not make sense for the adjective to be in comparative form. Also, in this sentence there's nothing to compare the adverb itself (superior in quality to what?) against, so the adverb can't be in comparative form, either.

Therefore, "ein überlegener weiter Flug" (where "überlegen" is meant to be an adverb, not an adjective), "ein überlegen weiterer Flug", and "ein überlegener weiterer Flug" (s.a.) are all out. (One could use "überlegener" as an adjectiv on its own, though).

It works the same way in English: You'd say "an exceptionally long jump", not "a more exceptionally longer jump".

In principle it's possible to use the adjective on its own in comparative form ("ein höherer Sprung"), but "weiterer" also has the meaning "a further, furthermore, another", so "ein weiterer Flug" could be misunderstood as "noch ein Flug". I guess this is why the author choose "überlegen weiter" instead.

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That's pretty simple:

"Ein überlegener weiterer Flug" is the comparative degree. In German you use the comparative degree only for direct comparison.

For example:

Der Eine war gut, der Andere war aber besser.

The word überlegen is a word of comparison. With a word like this you don't have to use the comparative degree or the superlative degree.

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