Semiotic foundations of natural linguistics and diagrammatic iconicity
Winfried Nöth | Universität Kassel, Germany, and Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, Brazil
The paper examines the semiotic foundations of Natural Linguistics with special reference to diagrammatic iconicity. In accordance with C. S. Peirce’s semiotics, naturalness in language is described as a substratum of iconic, indexical, and symbolic signs. Diagrammatic iconicity in language is more than form-meaning isomorphism; it is a structure inherent in the verbal form itself irrespective of whether the diagram is used to represent anything at all. The rules of word formation, syntax, and the structures of discourse constitute verbal diagrams. The system of language is a diagrammatic rhematic legisign. A pure diagram is a relational form without reference to anything else. Diagrams that represent in connection with indexical reference are diagrammatic hypoicons. This is the kind of diagram which has been studied in Natural Linguistics so far. Diagrams in language are both cognitively necessary and rhetorically efficient since icons are superior to other signs when clearness of representation and coherence of argumentation is concerned.
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