Linguistic Analogism and Anomalism


     The history of linguistic studies is expounded falsely as a cumulative process of a linear growth of knowledge and a series of unique individual inventions (B. Fajkus 1997: 29). Rupturist philosophers, however, claim that it consisted of coherent paradigms and ruptures repeated in periodic cycles. Its fates may be regarded as a story of perpetual oscillation between three extremes: firstly, analogism enjoying normative morphology, secondly, anomalism indulging in hermeneutic semiotics, and thirdly, comparativism giving preference to interlingual comparison and historical grammar. Table 2 attempts to give a broader generalisation of the former two paradigms as they reappear at different stages of history. If we plot their historical occurrence on chronological diagrams, we may observe regular periodic patterns. There are regular ups and downs in economic and social growth, which are manifested in literature as periods of classicist and romantic taste. In linguistics these changes in taste lead to periodic revivals of analogism and anomalism. 



analogy: harmony, regularity, perfection

proportion: proportionate measure

langue: abstract language system

centralism: received  literary standard

graphocentrism: stress on spelling,

   script and orthography

   stress on written standard

normativism: ideal perfect norm

naturalism:  words arisen in

   imitation of natural sounds

determinism: language as a product

   of natural cultural development

physicalism: objective reference

content: plain meaning

   denoting physical contents

reflection: concepts and signs are

   reflections of outer referents

anomaly: exceptions, aberrations

distorsion: distorted forms

parole: individual spoken speech

regionalism: regional  dialects

phonocentrism: stress on  phonetic

aspects, prosody and pronunciation

stress on spoken speech

eccentricism: romantic extremes

conventionalism:  words arisen

as conventional signs.

arbitrarism: language as a code

and an intentional product

allegorism: allegoric interpretation

icon: symbolic icons standing

for spiritual traditions

expression: sign as an expression

of  subjective feelings

Table 2. The opposition of analogism and anomalism in linguistics

     The analogist paradigm was dominant in the classic age of Greece as well as in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Its tenets may be extended to a general paradigm of normative linguistics, which pursues the study of language with the aim to distil the pure gold of the correct literary standard. This purism is justified by needs of school education and professional training. Normative studies do not aim at a deeper understanding of linguistic reality but aspire to receive a perfect literary standard worth mastering by the official state bureaucracy and common people. They regard linguistics as a sort of practical skill, art or handicraft (techné). They confuse grammar for techné grammatiké ‘the art of writing’ and rhetoric for ars dictandi ‘the art of speaking’. When dealing with phonetics they tended to reduce it to orthoepy ‘the art of correct pronunciation’. Instead of distinguishing clearly grammar and graphemics, they conceive both as orthography, ‘the art of correct writing’.


Extract from Pavel Bělíček: Historical Perspectives of English Studies in Czech Humanities. A Working Program of English Studies. Prague 2001, pp. 11-13.