Three paradigms of iconicity research in language and literature

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The paper discusses the characteristics of icons in the framework of C. S. Peirce’s sign classification and distinguishes three approaches to the study of verbal iconicity. The first investigates how the form of spoken or written language is similar to the meaning it represents. Studies within this paradigm are concerned with sound symbolism and include research in the three subtypes of iconicity distinguished by Peirce: images, diagrams, and metaphors. The second paradigm enquires into how verbal forms echo verbal forms in self-reflexive ways that make words icons of words. Among its topics are rhyme, meter, parallelism, repetition as well as syntactic and semantic recurrence. The third is based on Peirce’s later insight that iconicity is also at the root of verbal symbols and indices, insofar as these signs evoke mental images that represent icons of their signification.


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