If there were flotzls…

Today going to school Lillian was wearing a pretty white dress with small black polka dots.

“Lucky there are no flotzls,” she said.  Recently we read a poem about a fanciful creature called a flotzl which eats dots and other kinds of punctuation marks.

She elaborated on the thought.  “If there were flotzls, there would be no dots.”

“That’s not true!” I said.  “That’s like saying “If there were rabbits, there would be no grass.”

“If there were rabbits, there would be no carrots, you mean” she corrected.

Comment: a little while back I posted about Lillian’s ability to use counterfactual conditionals.  Here she’s taken another step: she’s able to judge degrees of similarity or analogy between a counterfactual on one topic (flotzls and dots) and others on another topic (carrots and foodstuffs).   Also, she’s able to consider the appropriateness of a conditional quite independently of whether it is true.  “If there were rabbits, there would be no carrots” is of course false (there are rabbits, but there are nevertheless carrots) but it is still a better match to “If there were flotzls there would be no dots”.

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