Several current linguistic approaches converge in rejecting the wide-spread idea that language is an autonomous system, i.e. that it is structured independently from the outside world and the natural equipment of language users. Around the world, semiotically biased linguistics (functionalism, naturalism, etc.) takes this position, which differentiates it very clearly from generative linguistics. One of the basic assumptions of such approaches is that language structure includes some non-arbitrary aspects, from the phonological through the textual level, and a great amount of research has occurred in the last decade regarding the "iconic aspects" of language(s). This volume focuses on generally neglected dimensions of language and semiotic activity, featuring contributions by philosophers, linguists, semioticians, and psychologists. After tracing the tradition of iconicity in the history of linguistic thought, the central section is devoted to specific analyses emphasizing the role of non-arbitrary phenomena in language foundation and linguistic structure.
Specifically discussed are numeration systems, the gestural systems of communication among deaf people, the genesis of writing in children, and inter-ethnic communication.
1. Foreword: Under the Sign of Cratylus (by Simone, Raffaele); 2. I. History of Linguistics; 3. Criticisms of the Arbitrariness of Language in Leibniz and Vico and the 'Natural' Philosophy of Language (by Gensini, Stefano); 4. II. Semiotic Theory; 5. Interactions between Iconicity and Other Semiotic Parameters in Language (by Dressler, Wolfgang U.); 6. Iconicity and/or Arbitrariness (by Engler, Rudolf); 7. Isomorphism in the Grammatical Code: Cognitive and Biological Considerations (by Givon, T.); 8. The Icon as an Abductive Process towards Identity (by Ajello, Roberto); 9. III. Language Description and Linguistic Theory; 10. The Iconic Index: From Sound Change to Rhyming Slang (by Anttila, Raimo); 11. Iconicity in Grammaticalization Processes (by Giacalone Ramat, Anna); 12. Iconicity between Indicativity and Predicativity (by Seiler, Hansjakob); 13. Iconic Aspects of Syntax: A Pragmatic Approach (by Simone, Raffaele); 14. Figure and Ground in Second Language Narratives: Traces of Iconicity (by Orletti, Franca); 15. Morphological Markedness in L2 Acquisition (by Berretta, Monica); 16. IV. Sign Systems Other than Verbal Language; 17. Terms for Spatio-Temporal Relations in Italian Sign Language (by Antinoro Pizzuto, Elena); 18. Creative Iconic Gestures: some Evidence from Aphasics (by Magno Caldognetto, Emanuela); 19. Iconicity in Children's First Written Texts (by Pontecorvo, Clotilde); 20. Index