Chapter published in:Operationalizing Iconicity
Edited by Pamela Perniss, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 17] 2020
► pp. 308–326
The iconic, indexical, and symbolic in language
Overlaps, inclusions, and exclusions
The paper examines diverse forms of overlap between iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs in language. Against linguists who postulate such hybrids as “iconic symbols” or “indexical symbols” in language, it argues that in such cross-classifications of verbal signs, symbols are confounded with legisigns. On the other hand, the paper also shows how symbols may include elements of iconicity as well as elements of indexicality. Evidence is given from examples of onomatopoeic words, diagrammatic icons, and proper names. Furthermore, the paper points out the necessity of distinguishing between the nature of verbal signs as such and the one of the signs of their interpretants. It shows how verbal signs that are predominantly symbols (as signs) are mentally interpreted as icons (mental images) and indices (that refer to previous situations of experience).
Published online: 13 May 2020
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