Advanced

The De-Iconization and Rebuilding of Iconicity in Spatial Deixis

Johansson, Niklas LU and Carling, Gerd LU (2015) In Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. International Journal of Structural Linguistics 47(1). p.4-32
Abstract
This paper investigates iconicity as a possible driving force behind the rebuilding of deictic systems and forms in individual languages. A comparison of a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European deictic system (based mainly on Beekes, Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, 1995) compared with the systems of attested Indo-European languages makes it clear that both systems and forms have undergone change, may it be through sound change, analogy, and/or semantic change. Based on the assumptions by Ultan (Universals of Human Language 2, Phonology, 1978), Woodworth (1991), Traunmüller (Tongues and Texts Unlimited. Studies in Honour of Tore Jansson on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Anniversary, 1994), and Johansson and Zlatev... (More)
This paper investigates iconicity as a possible driving force behind the rebuilding of deictic systems and forms in individual languages. A comparison of a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European deictic system (based mainly on Beekes, Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, 1995) compared with the systems of attested Indo-European languages makes it clear that both systems and forms have undergone change, may it be through sound change, analogy, and/or semantic change. Based on the assumptions by Ultan (Universals of Human Language 2, Phonology, 1978), Woodworth (1991), Traunmüller (Tongues and Texts Unlimited. Studies in Honour of Tore Jansson on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Anniversary, 1994), and Johansson and Zlatev (Motivations for Sound Symbolism in Spatial Deixis: A Typological Study of 101 languages. The Public Journal of Semiotics, 2013), iconicity obviously plays a role in the synchronic systems of spatial deixis, which in turn indicates the iconicity has played a role on the process of change, both of the forms themselves and the systems as such. Data from 13 contemporary and 17 historical languages, belonging to 12 Indo-European branches was used. Vowels and consonants were divided into voiceless sounds as being more proximal, and voiced sounds being more distal (see the explanation below). The voiced sounds were divided according to the frequency of their f2, with [i] and voiced palatal consonants as more proximal and [u] as more distal (Ohala, Sound Symbolism, 1994). Results were divided into motivated (fulfilling the expected relation between deictic form and sound value), non-motivated (arbitrary), and reversed-motivated (the reverse of motivated). Five strategies of rebuilding deictic systems and forms were identified. None of the languages investigated have used a system identical to the Proto-Indo-European reconstructed system. Mostly internal material from the Proto-Indo-European deictic system was used in the forms of the systems of the daughter languages. Generally, a statistically significant motivated support was found: 70.2% of the forms of the languages used were identified as motivated, 9.2–10.4% were non-motivated and 19.4–20.7% reversed-motivated. Due to the different strategies of rebuilding systems and forms, generative explanations for the motivated support should be excluded. Hence, iconicity seemed to be reintroduced after the decay, by means of language change, of a former (motivated) deictic system. Therefore, it turned out as a very likely conclusion that iconicity has been and is involved in the rebuilding of deictic material, relating to the systems as such. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
iconicity, sound symbolism, spatial deixis, language history, Indo-European, motivatedness
in
Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. International Journal of Structural Linguistics
volume
47
issue
1
pages
4 - 32
publisher
Routledge
external identifiers
  • scopus:84937023222
ISSN
1949-0763
DOI
10.1080/03740463.2015.1006830
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
b91be852-0880-40a8-8dfd-82b332b3eedb (old id 5038231)
date added to LUP
2015-01-30 13:27:47
date last changed
2017-03-19 03:16:30
@article{b91be852-0880-40a8-8dfd-82b332b3eedb,
  abstract     = {This paper investigates iconicity as a possible driving force behind the rebuilding of deictic systems and forms in individual languages. A comparison of a reconstructed Proto-Indo-European deictic system (based mainly on Beekes, Comparative Indo-European Linguistics: An Introduction, 1995) compared with the systems of attested Indo-European languages makes it clear that both systems and forms have undergone change, may it be through sound change, analogy, and/or semantic change. Based on the assumptions by Ultan (Universals of Human Language 2, Phonology, 1978), Woodworth (1991), Traunmüller (Tongues and Texts Unlimited. Studies in Honour of Tore Jansson on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Anniversary, 1994), and Johansson and Zlatev (Motivations for Sound Symbolism in Spatial Deixis: A Typological Study of 101 languages. The Public Journal of Semiotics, 2013), iconicity obviously plays a role in the synchronic systems of spatial deixis, which in turn indicates the iconicity has played a role on the process of change, both of the forms themselves and the systems as such. Data from 13 contemporary and 17 historical languages, belonging to 12 Indo-European branches was used. Vowels and consonants were divided into voiceless sounds as being more proximal, and voiced sounds being more distal (see the explanation below). The voiced sounds were divided according to the frequency of their f2, with [i] and voiced palatal consonants as more proximal and [u] as more distal (Ohala, Sound Symbolism, 1994). Results were divided into motivated (fulfilling the expected relation between deictic form and sound value), non-motivated (arbitrary), and reversed-motivated (the reverse of motivated). Five strategies of rebuilding deictic systems and forms were identified. None of the languages investigated have used a system identical to the Proto-Indo-European reconstructed system. Mostly internal material from the Proto-Indo-European deictic system was used in the forms of the systems of the daughter languages. Generally, a statistically significant motivated support was found: 70.2% of the forms of the languages used were identified as motivated, 9.2–10.4% were non-motivated and 19.4–20.7% reversed-motivated. Due to the different strategies of rebuilding systems and forms, generative explanations for the motivated support should be excluded. Hence, iconicity seemed to be reintroduced after the decay, by means of language change, of a former (motivated) deictic system. Therefore, it turned out as a very likely conclusion that iconicity has been and is involved in the rebuilding of deictic material, relating to the systems as such.},
  author       = {Johansson, Niklas and Carling, Gerd},
  issn         = {1949-0763},
  keyword      = {iconicity,sound symbolism,spatial deixis,language history,Indo-European,motivatedness},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {4--32},
  publisher    = {Routledge},
  series       = {Acta Linguistica Hafniensia. International Journal of Structural Linguistics},
  title        = {The De-Iconization and Rebuilding of Iconicity in Spatial Deixis},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03740463.2015.1006830},
  volume       = {47},
  year         = {2015},
}