Competing iconicities in the structure of languages

Autor/a: ARONOFF, Mark; MEIR, Irit; PADDEN, Carol; SANDLER, Wendy
Año: 2013
Editorial: Cognitive Linguistics. Vol. 24, Nº 2 (2013) pp. 309-343
Tipo de código: DOI
Código: 10.1515/cog-2013-001
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


The paper examines the role that iconicity plays in the structuring of grammars. Two main points are argued for: (a) Grammar does not necessarily suppress iconicity; rather, iconicity and grammar can enjoy a congenial relation in that iconicity can play an active role in the structuring of grammars. (b) Iconicity is not monolithic. There are different types of iconicity and languages take advantage of the possibilities afforded by them. We examine the interaction between iconicity and grammar by focusing on the ways in which sign languages employ the physical body of the signer as a rich iconic resource for encoding a variety of grammatical notions. We show that the body can play three different roles in iconic forms in sign languages: it can be used as a naming device where body parts represent body parts; it can represent the subject argument of verbal signs, and it can stand for first person. These strategies interact and sometimes compete in the languages under study. Each language resolves these competitions differently, which results in different grammars and grammatical structures. The investigation of the ways in which grammar and iconicity interact in these languages provides insight into the nature of both systems.