Iconicity in American sign language: concrete and metaphorical applications

Abstract

American Sign Language (ASL) describes spatial information (e.g., shapes, configurations, movement and location of figures in space) through a productive system of iconic “classifier” predicates. Many lexical items denoting concrete objects or actions are derived from the classifier system; many lexical items and non-lexicalized descriptions of abstract objects or actions are derived from the classifier system as well, through metaphorical mappings from the spatial domain to abstract domains. Starting from the ASL data, this paper presents an “analogue-building” model of the creation of iconic forms, which can cover spoken-language as well as sign-language iconicity, and a “double mapping” analysis of metaphorical iconicity. The double mapping analysis is supported by the existence of signs that share a metaphorical mapping but not an iconic mapping. The data and analyses presented here underscore the importance of space in conceptualizing non-spatial domains.

DOI: 10.1023/A:1011440231221

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Cite this paper

@article{Taub2000IconicityIA, title={Iconicity in American sign language: concrete and metaphorical applications}, author={Sarah F. Taub}, journal={Spatial Cognition & Computation}, year={2000}, volume={2}, pages={31-50} }