Posted: Apr 15, 2012 1:31 pm
by katja z
Zwaarddijk wrote:
Good points there. I think your post may be a sufficient note regarding analogy to evolution, though. Analogies to evolution do have some benefits: pretty much everyone here has an ok understanding of evolution, and it's an easy way of thinking about things once you have that down. Analogies to evolution likewise have some problems: there's quite a few misunderstandings about evolution around as well, and it's easy to get the wrong idea about, say, what the evolutionary pressures are that operate on language, etc.

Even though biologists have abandoned the idea of evolution as an ascension towards higher forms, this idea still is something we easily are mislead into thinking about when evolution is brought in as an analogy, and that's a thing I want to avoid.

Absolutely, and in most contexts I'd be somewhat wary of introducing the analogy (at least not without much longer explanations and caveats). But this being RatSkep, it's safe to assume that most readers don't think of evolution as purpose-driven or "ascending". :smile:

And of course, as with every analogy, you have to know where to stop. I have to say I do find it very helpful.

What I currently strive to do, really, is just establish the basic concepts - once I've gotten through these basic ideas, I suspect a nice short ~case study (English) would be a good idea.

You are probably right about a|an. I'll remove that, intrusive r is a sufficient well-known example that even a fully monolingual English reader is likely to have run into it.