Terms denoting comparison: The semantics of comparing from the sixteenth to the twentieth century
This subproject is exploring the semantics of comparing in Europe since 1500. The inquiry proceeds on three levels: terms denoting practices of comparing, explicit definitions of comparing, and speech acts (sentences) that perform comparisons. The basic hypothesis for the early modern period is that comparisons in the form of analogies were on the decline, whereas progressive comparisons, embedded in perceptions of competition, were on the increase. Finally, since 1800, there has been a growing importance of comparisons that stress equivalence in spite of difference or even complete incomparability.