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  • The power of analogy: An essay on historical linguistics
  • Jurgen Klausenburger
The power of analogy: An essay on historical linguistics. By Dieter Wanner. (Trends in linguistics: Studies and monographs 170.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2006. Pp. xv, 330. ISBN 9783110188738. $152 (Hb).

Dieter Wanner uses four of the six parameters proposed within his framework of 'Soft syntax' (Ch. 6, 152–98) in explicating the rise of the Romance future (254–57). For instance, the point of [End Page 256] departure for Span. diré 'I will say', Lat. dicere habeo 'I have (the obligation) to say', constitutes [CONCATENATION], illustrating syntactic subordination. This structure then underwent [COHESION], first partial and then complete morphological 'chunking'. The linear sequence in question, the lexical verb dicere preceding the auxiliary habeo, is attributed to the parameter of [PRECEDENCE]. Finally, the function called [DEPENDENCE] triggered head-oriented modification. It is clear that this three-step derivation consisting of [COHESION], [PRECEDENCE], and [DEPENDENCE] may be fairly transparently compared to several other well-known frameworks, the traditional analysis/synthesis cycle (Schwegler 1990), grammaticalization theory (Klausenburger 2000), and the formal syntax approach (Roberts & Roussou 2003). Each of these also contains three or four steps for this evolution, essentially captured by the grammaticalization cline lexeme > clitic > affix (suffix). What differentiates W's presentation from the others, however, is his claim that the obligatory stress on the ending of the newly amalgamated future forms, problematic in terms of its etymological origin, must have been due to a secondary analogical extension, consisting of three factors (257): (i) regular morphological expression of tense in Romance verbs, (ii) verb-final word order of Latin seen in verb + auxiliary combinations, and (iii) the frequency of auxiliary-final verbal expressions (as in the compound past tenses). We find here an excellent example of how W conceives of analogy as a pervasive and global phenomenon, a far cry from its rather limited conceptualization evident in a typical historical-textbook example, such as the development of Old Fr. verbal allomorphy aime/amons to Mod. Fr. paradigmatic leveling in aime/aimons.

A summary of the contents of the chapters immediately signals to the reader the ambitious nature of the 'essay'. After a brief introduction (1–11), which refers to both the 'prestige' and 'limitations' of historical linguistics, Ch. 1, 'Diachrony: Positions and challenges' (15–26), develops problematic aspects of historical linguistics and the nature of language change. Ch. 2, 'Domains in historical linguistics' (27–61), analyzes further dimensions of diachrony and formal proposals in historical studies. Ch. 3, 'Reintegrating diachrony: A critique of some theoretical constructs' (62–84), introduces 'immanence', parameters, and frequency as factors to be evaluated. Ch. 4, 'Critical issues: Grammaticality, representation, redundancy, and regularity' (85–107), concludes the general Part 1, addressing grammaticality judgments, among other notions.

Part 2 offers three chapters that constitute W's contribution: 'constructive proposals on how a historical linguistics in general, and syntax in particular, can be derived in organic fashion from an immanent focus on theory construction' (10). Ch. 5, 'Analogy, categorization, and learning' (111–51), attempts to pinpoint the truly pervasive role of analogical reasoning, both synchronically and diachronically. Perhaps the core contribution of the essay is found in Ch. 6, 'Soft syntax' (152–98), to be discussed in detail below. Finally, Ch. 7, 'Pathways for diachronic shifts' (199–266), is the longest chapter, giving mainly Romance illustrations for the theoretical framework introduced in the previous chapter. The conclusion in Ch. 8 (267–75) gives a brief reiteration of some key concepts, ending with an 'envoi' that pleads for 'historical linguistics as an inseparable branch of the science of language' (275). The text is followed by extensive notes (276–97) and a very complete list of references (289–321).

The truly global extent of the theoretical framework assumed by W becomes evident to the reader in the unveiling of SOFT SYNTAX, which 'implements a parsimonious approach to cognitive resources, obeys appropriate flexibility in analysis, unifies synchronic considerations with diachronic ones, and relies on the dynamic principle of analogy' (152). According to the author, [SYNTAX] constitutes but one of the three components of the linguistic individual's cognitive endowment, the other two being [OTHER] and [WORLD], outlined below (152...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 256-259
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-29
Open Access
No
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