Iconicity as meaning miming meaning and meaning miming form

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Iconicity consists of mimetic relations between form and meaning. This article is based on the notion of ‘spatial thinking’ and it is argued that there is no form without meaning, and that all meaning has some sort of form. Two fundamental distinctions are used. The first is Charles Sanders Peirce’s well-known division into three types of iconicity: image, diagram, and metaphor, which is extended to include ‘weak’ and ‘strong diagrams’. The second is a distinction between ontologically different appearances of signs: visual material signs, auditory material signs, and complex cognitive signs. A two-dimensional model illustrating the relations between these two distinctions is presented. The model is based on the assumption that iconicity, to a certain extent, is gradable, and it shows that the field of iconicity includes many phenomena that are not generally seen as related, but that nevertheless can be systematically compared. It also shows, among other things, that the ‘metaphor’ and the ‘weak diagram’ are singled out by the capacity of miming across the borders both between the visual and the auditory, and between the material and the mental. The main argument of the article is that iconicity should be understood not only as “form miming meaning and form miming form”, but also as “meaning miming meaning and meaning miming form”.


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