Outside-In — Inside-Out.
Iconicity in Language and Literature 4.
Edited by Costantino Maeder, Olga Fischer and William J. Herlofsky
Amsterdam: Benjamins 2005
From the blurb
This fourth volume in the 'Iconicity in Language and Literature' series carries on the tradition of fruitful cooperation established in the first three volumes, of an interdisciplinary research project devoted to the study of iconicity in language and literature in all its forms. As the title of this volume suggests, many of the papers turn the notion of iconicity 'in-side-out', some suggesting that 'less-is-more', and others focusing on the cognitive factors 'inside' brain that are important for the iconic phenomena that are produced in the 'outside' world. In addition to papers on language and literature, this volume includes a paper related to iconicity in music and its interaction with language. Other papers range from the theoretical issues involved in the evolution of language, to those that offer many 'in-side-out' claims, such as claiming that nouns are derived from pronouns, and as such should more properly be called 'pro-pronouns'. Also, this volume includes perhaps the first English-language analysis of the iconic aspects of sound symbolism in a prayer from the Koran. This is a truly interdisciplinary collection that should turn some of the notions of iconicity in language and literature 'out-side-in' and 'in-side-out'.
Table of Contents
Preface and acknowledgements
List of contributors
Introduction: Iconicity in-side-out
Wiiliam Herlofsky, Costantino Maeder and Olga Fischer
Part I : Theoretical issues
Iconicity or Iconization? Probing the dynamic interface between language and perception
On the role of iconic motivation in conceptual metaphor: Has metaphor theory come full circle?
Relative Motivation in Gustave Guillaume's Theory
The Beginnings of Iconicity in the Work of F.T. Marinetti
Part II : Negative or inverted iconicity
Mimesis lost – meaning gained. The emergence of meaning from the reduction of iconicity
Non-supplemented blanks in works of literature as forms of ‘iconicity of absence’
Photographs in narrative
Coconut shells and creaking doors: A semiotic approach to the avant-garde radio play’s sound-effects
Part III : Iconicity and sound
The iconic-cognitive role of fricatives and plosives: A phono-semantic analysis of a classical Arabic prayer Al-falaq
Afnan H. Fatani
Iconic uses of rhyme
Iconic strategies in Monteverdi’s Madrigali guerrieri ed amorosi: “Altri Canti d’Amor”
Part IV : Iconicity and structure
Frozen locutions - frozen dimensions: LEFT and RIGHT in English, German and Russian
Some iconic correlations in language and their impact on the parole-langue dichotomy
Pablo I. Kirtchuk-Halevi
The iconicity of infinitival complementation in Present-Day English causatives
Linguistic representations of motion events: What is signifier and what is signified?
Dan I. Slobin
Now you see it now you don't: iMagic diagrams in the spatial mapping of signed language (JSL) discourse
William J. Herlofsky
Part V : Iconicity and narrative
Pirandello’s Si Gira: Iconicity in titles
Narrative structures and iconicity in Yasmina Reza’s Une désolation (1999)
Iconicity as a function of point of view
Iconic functions of phraseological units and metaphor
Introduction: Iconicity in-side-out (excerpts and summaries)
This, the fourth volume in the ‘Iconicity in Language and Literature’ series, carries on the tradition of fruitful cooperation established in the first three volumes, as expressed in Fischer and Müller (2003: 1), of an interdisciplinary research project devoted to the study of iconicity in language and literature in all its forms. The title of this fourth volume, Outside-In and Inside-Out, can be interpreted in a number of ways, but for us, the editors, it is intended to express a sense of the ‘direction’ taken by the papers selected for this volume. In many of the linguistic studies, for example, there is a focus on the cognitive processes involved in iconicity, and these cognitive processes, from ‘inside’ the brain to the ‘outside’, or the external expression of concepts and ideas, are meant to be suggested in our title. For the literary contributions, a number of the authors have noted that a lack of iconicity can be another way of expressing iconicity, a perspective that turns the concept of iconicity itself ‘in-side-out’.
In a sense, all of the previous Iconicity in Language and Literature volumes are also concerned with the transition of iconicity from ‘out-side-in’, where perception of the ‘outside’ world brings to the mind/brain the stimulation necessary for ‘inside’ conceptualization and later expression of the concepts that are then brought ‘outside’ again, as they are reflected in the linguistic performance. The term ‘performance’ is used here in the Chomskyan sense of external language expression (as opposed to the internal linguistic competence), as well as in the sense of all the other meanings the word ‘performance’ has, from the linguistic performance arts of language and literature, from poetry to literary texts, and, in this volume, the inclusion of a religious text, and also the performance of signed discourse.
These interdisciplinary approaches, bridging the gaps between linguistics and literature, should also be conducted along with the study of other forms of human communication, in order to provide a more multi-faceted understanding of iconicity, an understanding which should allow the interaction of many otherwise seemingly incompatible semiotic systems. In this context, the Louvain Symposium expanded the focus of research to include music and its interaction with language. Music obliges us to find new conversion and interaction levels, which may be helpful in understanding how signification works, how we create sense by seeing, reading, listening and writing. Music, for example, forces us to accept form as an important signifying element, because there is no manifest double articulation (vexata quaestio whether it is really the case in all occurrences and types of music). The study of music is therefore crucial, certainly when music and text interact, as for instance in opera or songs.
We have divided the volume into five sections. Part I deals with ‘Theoretical Issues’. Paul Bouissac’s paper in this section is our first example of how the ‘in-side-out’ metaphor is played out in this volume: he considers both the influence of our perceived environment and the conceptualization of this environment in the human brain in relation to the presence of iconicity in both natural and literary language use. That is, our perception of objects in our environment (out-side-in) can influence the expression of iconicity in language (in-side-out), but language, especially literary language, can also influence our ‘perception’ of the environment (cf. the musical examples above). Bouissac believes that nature does not directly impact on language, suggesting instead that iconicity is more “akin to a trope than to a natural process”, which would be true for literary as well as for natural language. His conclusion includes the question of whether language iconically reflects our environment, or whether there has also been a co-evolution of language and our environment, a co-evolution of our inner and outer worlds, making the description of this interaction much more complicated. In answering this question, he suggests that it may be useful to distinguish between literary iconization (which he terms ‘artifactual’ iconicity) and linguistic iconicity (which he calls ‘natural’ or ‘functional’ iconicity), since only the former is observable, and the latter is speculative.
Moving from out-side-in and then in-side-out again, Beate Hampe’s contribution begins with a brief summary of the main assumptions of conceptual metaphor theory within the cognitive linguistic framework, their relation to the iconic mode of signification, and how all of these factors motivate a vast number of linguistic expressions. Primary metaphors, cross-domain correspondences of a more complex kind, complicate the issue of conceptual metaphorical thought, and Hampe’s paper explores these complicated issues in relation to the ‘correspondence view’ and the role of ‘similarity’ in the interaction theory of metaphor, and how these factors are related to iconic motivation. All of this theoretical work is done using data from the British National Corpus, in an attempt to develop her own extended version of conceptual metaphor theory.
Philippe Monneret is concerned with a specific approach to grammatical structure, i.e. the work of the French linguist Gustave Guillaume (1883-1960). He considers Guillaume’s systematics of language along with Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology in his discussion of iconicity in language. Monneret claims that according to these two frameworks, natural language cannot consist of arbitrary signs because if this were the case nothing new could be said. Monneret presents Guillaume’s analysis of the stems of the French verb aller ‘go’, and illustrates how Guillaume’s perspective leads to distinguishing two types of arbitrariness. His conclusion is that Guillaume’s theory can be a useful tool for revealing the iconic structures of natural languages.
The last paper in this theoretical section is concerned with the theoretical notions behind the Italian Futurist movement. Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944), one of the founders of this movement, heavily relied on iconicity in his work. In an earlier volume in this series, John White (1999) already showed the very rich and complex iconic devices which Marinetti wove into his picture poems. For his study in this volume, Peter Gahl shows how Marinetti's literary manifestos oblige the reader constantly to apply a 'perception by analogy'. This concept, as it was presented in the Manifesto tecnico della letteratura futurista in 1912, is complex: it generates the most disparate iconic features. Iconic devices have always been very important in literature, but the interesting question remains why in certain periods, as for instance during Futurism, literary criticism focused mainly on iconicity and its implications. For Marinetti, indeed, iconicity is considered the only means of revealing sense directly. This is very different from the way iconicity is used in a late twentieth-century text as discussed by Kuhn (this volume, and see below), where iconicity only suggests sense and serves to show the limits of communication.
Part II, ‘Negative or Inverted Iconicity’, contains four studies addressing rather different topics, but they are all concerned with a form of iconicity that is only indirectly present. It is interesting to note that all four contributions are clearly interdisciplinary. It is probably this interdisciplinary aspect that causes iconicity , inspired by a new mode of reference, to be inverted or redefined. Alwin Fill notes that some forms of iconicity are rather too obvious and hence boring, which may cause people to play with or manipulate it. He argues that the absence of iconicity, where one expects it, may itself in fact be iconic. He illustrates this ‘negative’ iconicity with a series of examples taken from poetry, the fine arts, music, and text-picture combinations in advertising. He further suggests that there may be a connection here with language development, where iconic devices also conventionalize (or grammaticalize) and thus lose their iconic force. In other words, with other cultural phenomena too the conventionalization of certain iconic devices may have become so culturally ingrained that the essential or intuitive iconicity may be more effectively foregrounded by breaking the iconic conventions that gave rise to it in the first place. To put it briefly: the reduction of iconicity, counter-intuitively, reinforces meaning. Less is more! This is perhaps not so much iconicity inside-out as iconicity topsy-turvy.
Werner Wolf looks at a more immediate and concrete type of ‘negative’ iconicity in that he considers literal ‘blanks’ or ‘absences’ in literary texts. As he states at the beginning, the common reader tends to focus rather more on what is ‘present’ than on what does not appear in black and white on a sheet of paper. Wolf shows the working of different forms of ‘absence’, which are purposefully integrated into the text as a means of creating sense. Most effects of ‘absence’ are due to iconic devices, both of an imagic and a diagrammatic type. As Wolf points out, shifting the focus from presence to what he calls ‘iconicity of absence’ – involving a “negative aspect of literary texts” – forces researchers to challenge their usual analytical procedures.
Christina Ljungberg's study presents us with an innovative topic, the role of photographs within narrative texts. Many writers have pondered about the relation between snapshots and reality, and the representation of reality. After a discussion of several paradoxical elements and literary ruminations by writers such as Calvino on the truthfulness of representation and how the latter can falsify the perception of reality, Ljungberg analyses several narrative texts which contain discussions of photographs: W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz and Paul Auster's The Invention of Solitude. Many writers of the realistic movement – for example, Giovanni Verga (1840-1922), the central figure of Verism – were intrigued by photographs because they apparently represented reality or at least a fragment of it. Stendhal, in The Red and the Black, claims that a novel is like a mirror carried along a road. But even in this instance, the reflected reality is not objective: it shows only part of the ‘real’ world. The very choice of the angle at which the holder points the mirror is not innocent. It is not accidental that one of the symbols of realism, photography, is the very object of a revealing deconstruction of its apparent empirical, positive dimension, because even a photograph still needs a human observer to interpret it.
John White is interested in the underestimated area of acoustic iconicity. Most researchers in literature tend to concentrate on the only thing that usually persists: the written text. As we know, even a written text is not at all unambiguous. It is understandable, that in all cases where different semiotic systems interact – whose operation or effect is perhaps less intuitive or, on the contrary, too intuitive – researchers tend to focus their interest on the written text. As we have seen in other contributions, for example in Ljungberg’s, very often what seems to be directly iconic and to refer directly to the real world, is not at all realistic and rational. White studies an avant-garde radio play by Peter Handke called provocatively Hörspiel (‘radio play’). Real world sounds are integrated into this play, but instead of confirming the setting auditorily and metonymically (the sound of a seagull implies by convention that we are near the sea or on a ship, for instance), the effects obtained by Handke are far from reassuring: iconicity is rarely only iconic, but serves to de-familiarize, to break up conventions and to destabilize the readers expectations.
Sound plays a major role in Part III, ‘Iconicity and Sound’. The first contribution by Afnan Fatani is concerned with the smallest sound-bits, the phonemes. Her study is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it focuses on the iconic use of sounds in an Arabic prayer. As far as we know, this is the first analysis published in English of iconic aspects of sound symbolism in a prayer from the Koran. In her paper, Fatani describes how the sounds of the words in a section of a prayer titled Al-falaq (‘The Splitting’) cause the mouth, in its pronunciation of the words, to imitate the action described, especially the key term of ‘splitting’. Her phono-semantic analysis shows how the fricative-plosive patterns of the content words in the end-rhyme positions imitate the kinetic processes of friction, compression and escape described in the prayer.
Moving up a little bit higher, to the syllable, Max Nänny analyses the iconic dimension of rhyme in English poetry. Although he admits that most of the form-meaning relationships are arbitrary, he also identifies a large number of examples where the phonetic relationship reflects a semantic relationship and which therefore constitute diagrammatic icons. He shows that rhyme is not merely an ornament or a formal constraint, but that poets use rhyming patterns or rhyme disruptions as a positive semantic tool. He discusses, for instance, the difference between feminine and masculine rhyme-endings, the use of rhyme triplets as against the conventional doublets in heroic couplets, and the opposition of rhyme and non-rhyme. Nänny proposes a typology of features based on iconic rhyme use. He illustrates his types with a thorough discussion of examples taken especially from John Dryden and Alexander Pope.
The contribution by Cristophe Georis on Claudio Monteverdi’s madrigals deals with sound in the most direct way, i.e. music. Iconic devices play an important, often mysterious role in music. This is even more so when dealing with ‘absolute music’, which is intended to ‘signify’ by itself without text and without being restricted to a particular function such as, for instance, the accompaniment of a banquet. When music interacts with a text, iconicity is more evident: this is certainly the case for madrigals. Monteverdi is a musician who was deeply aware of the importance of text and its dramatic conversion to music. The term ‘madrigalism’ is derived from this genre and today indicates a series of musical figures and devices which imitate words. Georis illustrates how iconic devices in Monteverdi do not only concern word-painting but how they work on different, less intuitive and less obvious levels: for instance, how the musical structure reflects the particular form of the sonnet on which the madrigals studied by Georis are based.
Part IV, ‘Iconicity and Structure’, is concerned with the various ways in which the structure of language, both spoken and signed, may be diagrammatically iconic. Doris Schönefeld’s contribution is the narrowest in scope. She analysis frozen expressions used for describing ‘left’ and ‘right’ in English, German and Russian. In her data-based cross-linguistic approach, she first discusses whether the left-right axis of human beings is iconically mirrored in English expressions of spatial orientation, and whether these expressions support Landsberg’s (1995) ‘dexterity criterion’. Her analysis of the data indicates that language use is influenced by many more factors than the dexterity criterion, and that only cross-linguistic data-based studies such as her own (in other words, native-speaker intuitions or dictionary data are not sufficient) can provide the appropriate facts necessary to determine actual language use.
Pablo Kirtchuk-Halevi’s investigation is another example of the ‘in-side-out’ approach of many of the papers in this volume in that it reverses our usual perception of nouns and pronouns. Kirtchuk-Halevi claims that pronouns are not derived from nouns, but instead nouns are derived from pronouns; therefore, they should be called something like ‘pro-pronouns’. His three-part analysis of deictics, topic-head utterances and focus intonation goes on to suggest that contrary to structuralist and generative approaches, parole is prior to langue. Kirtchuk-Halevi also claims that pronouns are phonologically monosyllabic, morphologically unanalysable, semantically void, pragmatically indispensable, universal in synchrony and primary in diachrony, and that nouns display inverse properties, reflecting an iconic relationship between their complex structure and late appearance.
Willem Hollmann’s historical analysis of English causatives attempts to account for the variation in the distribution of bare and ‘to’-infinitives in causatives, and argues that the difference is iconically motivated. Hollmann uses Givón’s (1980) notion of ‘binding (the extent to which a higher and lower clause are considered a single event), and adds to Givón’s dimensions of ‘intended’ vs ‘unintended’ causation and ‘direct’ vs ‘mediated’ causation, three additional factors: the presence v. absence of a ‘control’ frame, ‘punctuality’ vs ‘nonpunctuality’, plus ‘mind-to- mind’ vs other causation types. He concludes that historically, the distribution of the causative constructions was determined by their different binding properties.
Dan Slobin investigates cross-linguistically what constitutes the signifier and the signified in motion events. He identifies a range of signifier types in motion events (including a consideration of word order, case marking, and verb-argument structure) and suggests an ‘objective’ characterization of the signified to be more challenging. Slobin claims, somewhat in accordance with Bouissac (this volume) but not going as far as he does, that the conceptualization of motion events is partially influenced by the form-meaning relations in individual languages. That is, the notion of what is iconic here is based not so much on the objects and events in the environment themselves, but on the perspective and expression of those objects and events provided by the individual languages. In the words of Nöth (2001), the iconicity here would be ‘endophoric’ (i.e. based on the relations of references within language) rather than ‘exophoric’ (i.e. purely semiotic). Thus, even though linguistic forms are often iconic, the form-meaning relationship of this iconicity is not necessarily universal, it may be partially influenced by individual languages.
William Herlofsky’s ‘in-side-out’ paper analyses a brief Japan Sign Language narrative, and attempts to unify much of the iconic phenomena that have already been discussed in previous sign language research by utilizing Peirce’s triadic notions of image, diagram and metaphor. In doing so, Herlofsky consciously avoids using the technical terms of other frameworks, terms such as ‘image schema’ from cognitive linguistics, or ‘referential’ and ‘non-locative’ from descriptive discussions of American Sign Language (ASL), and instead combines Peircean terms to form ‘umbrella’ expressions, like ‘imagic-diagram’, to cover all of the similar phenomena discussed in previous analyses. This, he states, is an attempt to discover generalizations that are difficult to see through the screen of the varying terminology of the different approaches.
Part V, ‘Iconicity and Narrative’ is concerned with the manipulation of iconic devices in relation to longer narratives. The first study here, that by Isabella Sardo, is somewhat different from the other three in that she considers how the title of a narrative may influence the structure and meaning of the narrative itself through a perceived iconic relation between the two. Sardo’s investigation into ‘iconic titles’ is concerned with the Italian novelist Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936). Pirandello was one of the most innovative, open-minded and critical writers of the twentieth century. In many of his texts, he deals with appearance, form, representation and, thereby, iconicity as a means of signification. Sardo focuses on an aspect of iconicity that until now has been neglected in this series: the importance of a title for the narrative that follows. The novel she has chosen, Si Gira, (lit. “[it/one] turns”) is one of the first which deals with the cinema and its effects, with the operator and his actions, with pure representation and its contradictions. The title reflects the inherent circular character of the novel and the disposition of its contents; at the same time, the expression si gira is also used as an order to the camera-man to start filming. The English translation of the title, Shoot, misses this ‘circularity’ and represents a more linear, teleological approach. But (perhaps) by chance, even this title is coherent with the structure of the novel since the readers’ expectations can be dramatically focused on another, more semantic aspect of the content.
Barbara Kuhn looks at some unusual linguistic structures used with iconic intent in a short novel by the French writer and actress Yasmina Reza: Une désolation (Desolation is the official English title). This text describes ‘attempts at dialogue’, as its author states repeatedly. The hazardous task of communication, which it refers to, is one of the major topics in the writings of Reza. Kuhn identifies many different forms of iconicity on various linguistic levels, and her analysis uncovers a multiplicity of significations that simultaneously create a network of correspondences between the different levels and their interpretive possibilities. Kuhn shows how the text transforms itself into an icon of the ‘attempts at dialogue’ in that oral or literary communication, as a means of transferring knowledge, is often inadequate, suggesting only ‘sense’ and dialogue through iconic means. And once the context of utterance has disappeared, a reader may be left with a skeleton of words, whose reference can hardly be reconstructed, as the paradoxical usage of deictics in this short novel shows.
Elzbieta Tabakowska’s contribution looks at some structural aspects of texts from an interdisciplinary angle. She re-examines the notion of point-of-view in narratives and focuses especially on morphology and syntax using data from portions of the novel Atonement by Ian McEwan. She compares the description of point-of-view in literary texts with the way perspective is drawn or indicated in the fine arts. Her study provides evidence that authors of novels use certain linguistic forms to organize the physical, mental and temporal spaces within the world of the narrative, and that this is accomplished by mimicking certain relationships within that narrative space. Thus the writers, by adopting a certain perspective and then imposing this perspective on the reader through certain rhetorical devices, direct the reader’s attention to the desired perspective on spatial relationships, by appealing to the reader’s ‘iconic competence’.
Judith Munat’s study is concerned with the iconicity of phraseological units and metaphors occurring over extended segments of the text of Henry James’s novel, The Sacred Fount. In her analysis, she discusses how some quite conventional metaphors have become so commonplace and accepted that many people no longer recognize them as metaphors, while other, more novel metaphors, often require considerable effort on the reader’s part to ‘discover’ the intended connection (or similarity) between two apparently very different referents. Munat suggests that James’s use of these metaphors is iconic in that they force the reader to search for mediating structures or similarities, a search that takes them from the ‘external’ world described in the novel to their own ‘internal’ conceptualization of that world. For example, understanding of ‘the sacred fount’ metaphor of the title can be seen as emerging from a connection between the mental spaces of a source domain of a ‘fountain’ that provides youth and nourishment, and a target domain consisting of ‘youthful qualities’, such as wit and intelligence. This connection can then aid in comprehending the metaphors used throughout the novel to describe the sudden gain of youth and intelligence by some of the characters. Munat concludes by claiming that it is only by examining extended segments of a text that the complex interplay of the meaning of these types of metaphors and their iconicity can be fully understood.