Degrees of iconicity in the lexicon

Linda R. Waugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Iconicity is an important part of language: e.g., there is substantial diagrammatic iconicity in the lexicon due to recurrences of form-meaning connections in morphemes, submorphemes, phonesthemes, and word-affinity relations. However, the term morpheme has been applied to phenomena which do not exhibit iconicity. And, differential polysemy across words constrains cross-lexical recurrence of meaning. It emerges that the lexicon exhibits degrees of iconicity, as defined by two competing tendencies for sound: one towards total iconicity, the other towards total non-iconicity (arbitrariness).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-70
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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