LINGUIST List 7.1372

Fri Oct 4 1996

Disc: Grammaticalization

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Margaret J Speas, Re: Disc. Grammaticalization

Message 1: Re: Disc. Grammaticalization

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 11:49:12 EDT
From: Margaret J Speas <>
Subject: Re: Disc. Grammaticalization
Esa Itkonen comments:
> Of course the 'Chomskyan framework' is incompatible with
> grammaticalization. Grammaticalization is generally conceptualized as
> a two-stage process. (Let us call the stages e.g. 'reanalysis' and
> 'extension'.) Reanalysis is based on a pre-existent model, i.e. it is
> an analogical process. Extension analogically generalizes the result
> of reanalysis to new contexts, i.e. it too is an analogical
> process. (This will be argued more extensively elsewhere.) Now,
> Chomsky's fondness of analogy is known to be minimal(ist).

I'm not familiar enough with the issue of grammaticalization to
comment on the first part, but the claim that 'Chomsky's fondness
of analogy is known to be minimal' is not right. What Chomsky
has always claimed is that to say that language works 'by
analogy' simply begs the question - which analogy? Of course
English speakers draw analogies like the following:

play : plays :: glark : glarks

But Chomsky's point is that there are lots of reasonable
analogies that no English speaker ever draws. Like:

John is easy to please : To please John is easy ::

John is eager to please : To please John is eager.

So the question is WHY speakers make some analogies and not
others. The claim is not that language cannot involve analogical
reasoning; it's just that you have to investigate WHICH analogies
are made and which ones aren't in order to get at the root of
knowledge of grammar.

Peggy Speas
UMass, Amherst
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