Chapter published in:Operationalizing Iconicity
Edited by Pamela Perniss, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 17] 2020
► pp. 154–165
Levels of iconicity in classical and modern English-language haiku
An attempt at operationalization
This chapter analyzes haiku poems written in English, focusing on iconicity as a property of the genre, based on its formal and semantic restrictions. Iconic miming is argued to be an inherent aspect of poetics and Langacker’s theoretical concept of dimensions of imagery in his cognitive theory of language and grammar is presented as an instrument of analysis for the selected poems. The fundamental assumption which underlies the cognitive model of grammar is that language offers to its users alternate ways of construing conceived situations for purposes of linguistic expression, with individual parameters of meaning construal making up a set of dimensions of imagery. Apart from phonemic iconicity, iconic graphic representation and synesthesia, the author illustrates the poets’ use, and the readers’ potential interpretations, of cases of iconicity stemming from such aspects of imagery as the grammatical distinction between things and relations, as well as the oppositions between definiteness and indefiniteness, figure and ground, and temporal and atemporal relations. In conclusion, the author states that though the cognitive theory of construal was formulated as part of a theory of language, the model clearly finds direct application to the analysis of literary texts, with the genre of haiku providing a salient instance.
Published online: 13 May 2020
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