LINGUIST List 7.1784

Wed Dec 18 1996

Disc: Analogy

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. Esa Itkonen, analogy
  2. RPetterson, Re: 7.1765, Disc: Analogy

Message 1: analogy

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 15:12:40 +0200 (EET)
From: Esa Itkonen <>
Subject: analogy

	If one is asked to predict or formalize WHICH analogies are formed
in fact, diachrony and synchrony have to be treated separately.
First, grammaticalization (for instance) is a diachronic process, and all
linguistic changes are unpredictable. Therefore, if grammaticalization is
viewed as analogical (with respect both to reanalysis and to extension),
then any theory that would claim to be able to predict which analogies
will be made would be falsified eo ipso.
	Second, as far as synchrony is concerned, it IS possible to
formalize analogy. To do so, one only needs to retain the traditional
notion of analogy as a matter of form-AND-meaning (i.e. analogy-1) and
reject the homonymous neologism that treats analogy as a matter of form
(i.e. analogy-2). Only if one adopts analogy-2 (i.e. the aberrant, formalist
notion of analogy) can one claim - and with perfect justification - that
'analogy does not exist', and support this claim with the
ungrammaticalness of 'I saw the barn red' and the like.
	Thus, it is trivially true that analogy-2 does not exist. (This was
pointed out also by Farrell and Israel.) Less trivially, analogy-1 both
exists and can be formalized. More precisely, the formalization of
analogy-1 is not just a possibility; rather, it is a FACT (cf. Esa Itkonen &
Jussi Haukioja: 'A rehabilitation of analogy in syntax (and elsewhere)',
in: A. Kertesz (ed.): Metalinguistik im Wandel: die kognitive Wende' in
Wissenschaftstheorie und Linguistik. Frankfurt a/M: Peter Lang, 1997,
pp. 131-177). So far, the formalization (carried out in PROLOG) covers a
fragment of English syntax (including wellknown counter-examples which
thus turn out to be fictitious), but it can be (analogically) extended
	Now that the traditional notion of analogy (i.e. analogy-1) has
been first distinguished from the formal 'analogy' (i.e. analogy-2) and
then formalized, one sincerely hopes that diffuse a priori claims to the
effect that 'analogy does not exist' will quietly subside.

Esa Itkonen
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Message 2: Re: 7.1765, Disc: Analogy

Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 17:40:41 +0000
From: RPetterson <>
Subject: Re: 7.1765, Disc: Analogy

>Consider the following case discussed by Chomsky in his discussion (in the
>video "Human Language Series, Part II) "of what he considers to
>be the failure of analogy-based approaches to language
>acquisition :
>The boy paints the red barn : The boy paints the barn red ::
>The boy sees the red barn: The boy sees the barn red
>... the analogy is UNREASONABLE.

Sorry, I just had to do this...

The boy puts red-tinted glasses on, I put on green. There is a white barn
outside. When we go out, **the boy sees the barn red**, while I see it

>The case brought up by Speas
>> John is easy to please : To please John is easy ::
>> John is eager to please : To please John is eager.

What about this? Does it count if you use commas?

A: John seems so eager to please and help out.
B: Well yes... **to please, John is eager**, it is true, but to help out
... well, he's more of a hindrance than a help.

analogy rulz, ok :-)

Robert Petterson
International Pacific College
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