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Cross-modal iconicity: A cognitive semiotic approach to sound symbolism

Ahlner, Felix LU and Zlatev, Jordan LU (2010) In Sign Systems Studies 38(1/4). p.298-348
Abstract
It is being increasingly recognized that the Saussurean dictum of "the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign" is in conflict with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon commonly known as "sound symbolism". After first presenting a historical overview of the debate, however, we conclude that both positions have been exaggerated, and that an adequate explanation of sound symbolism is still lacking. How can there, for example, be (perceived) similarity between expressions and contents across different sensory modalities? We offer an answer, based on the Peircian notion of iconic ground, and G. Sonesson's distinction between primary and secondary iconicity. Furthermore, we describe an experimental study, in a paradigm first pioneered by W. Kohler,... (More)
It is being increasingly recognized that the Saussurean dictum of "the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign" is in conflict with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon commonly known as "sound symbolism". After first presenting a historical overview of the debate, however, we conclude that both positions have been exaggerated, and that an adequate explanation of sound symbolism is still lacking. How can there, for example, be (perceived) similarity between expressions and contents across different sensory modalities? We offer an answer, based on the Peircian notion of iconic ground, and G. Sonesson's distinction between primary and secondary iconicity. Furthermore, we describe an experimental study, in a paradigm first pioneered by W. Kohler, and recently popularized by V. Ramachandran, in which we varied vowels and consonants in fictive word-forms, and conclude that both types of sounds play a role in perceiving an iconic ground between the word-forms and visual figures. The combination of historical conceptual analysis, semiotic explication and psychological experimentation presented in this article is characteristic of the emerging paradigm of cognitive semiotics. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
iconicity, sound symbolism, arbitrariness, ideophones, psychomimes, expressives, semiotics, cognitive semiotics
in
Sign Systems Studies
volume
38
issue
1/4
pages
298 - 348
publisher
Tartu University Press
ISSN
1406-4243
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
40aed44a-2e7d-4186-9353-07d556f57895 (old id 2154915)
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http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=63194453&site=ehost-live
date added to LUP
2011-09-13 16:54:15
date last changed
2016-04-15 23:30:06
@article{40aed44a-2e7d-4186-9353-07d556f57895,
  abstract     = {It is being increasingly recognized that the Saussurean dictum of "the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign" is in conflict with the pervasiveness of the phenomenon commonly known as "sound symbolism". After first presenting a historical overview of the debate, however, we conclude that both positions have been exaggerated, and that an adequate explanation of sound symbolism is still lacking. How can there, for example, be (perceived) similarity between expressions and contents across different sensory modalities? We offer an answer, based on the Peircian notion of iconic ground, and G. Sonesson's distinction between primary and secondary iconicity. Furthermore, we describe an experimental study, in a paradigm first pioneered by W. Kohler, and recently popularized by V. Ramachandran, in which we varied vowels and consonants in fictive word-forms, and conclude that both types of sounds play a role in perceiving an iconic ground between the word-forms and visual figures. The combination of historical conceptual analysis, semiotic explication and psychological experimentation presented in this article is characteristic of the emerging paradigm of cognitive semiotics.},
  author       = {Ahlner, Felix and Zlatev, Jordan},
  issn         = {1406-4243},
  keyword      = {iconicity,sound symbolism,arbitrariness,ideophones,psychomimes,expressives,semiotics,cognitive semiotics},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1/4},
  pages        = {298--348},
  publisher    = {Tartu University Press},
  series       = {Sign Systems Studies},
  title        = {Cross-modal iconicity: A cognitive semiotic approach to sound symbolism},
  volume       = {38},
  year         = {2010},
}