'Analogy': The history of a concept and a term from the 17th to the 19th century

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Lat. <i>analogia</i>, Fr. <i>analogie</i>, Engl. <i>analogy</i>, Germ. <i>Analogie </i>is a concept widely used in the history of linguistics. But the content of the term and its use show considerable variation and change over time. It first designated the relation between linguistic elements and represented a kind of opposition to arbitrariness. Analogy was regarded as a principle of the formation of words. In some linguistic theories, analogy is used to explain the development of language, for example in the description of all words out of analogous roots. In eighteenth-century linguistic theories, the concept of analogy is mainly applied to relations between referents in the formation of new words, but similarities between sounds in syllables also become important. Analogy is regarded as an important factor of sound change and becomes specialised as a concept of historical comparative linguistics.


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