Announcing the Symposium
"Iconicity in Language and Literature"
University of Zurich, 20-22 March 1997
* Objective and Theme
The aim of this international and interdisciplinary symposium is to provide evidencefor the pervasive presence of iconicity (i.e. form miming meaning) in language andin literature.
By means of detailed case studies (focusing on English), the symposium will, onthe one hand, concentrate on iconicity as a driving force in language (includingcommercial language) and language change. On the other hand, the symposium wishesto address the various mimetic uses of the iconic image and/or iconic diagram atall levels of the literary text (exploring typography in all its aspects, sound,rhythm, syntax, rhetorical figures, textual structure, narrative, etc.).
* Keynote papers:
Ivan Fónagy (Paris): `Why Iconicity?'
John Haiman (St. Paul): `Self-Abasement in Language: A Case Study on the Viabilityof a Metaphor'
John Hollander (New Haven): To be announced.
* Other papers:
Simon Alderson (Cambridge): `18th- and 19th-Century Prose Iconicity: Innovationand Change'
Matthias Bauer (Münster): `Iconicity in the Metaphysical Poets'
Walter Bernhart (Graz): `"Lullaby for Jumbo": The Semiotic Status ofKinesis in Poetic Rhythm'
Ina Biermann (Pretoria): `Salman Rushdie's "The Moor's Last Sigh" andthe Language of Poetry: Characterisation through Onomatopoeic Effects'
Richard Bradford (Coleraine): `Jakobson and William Carlos Williams on the IconicPoem'
Claus Clüver (Bloomington): `Mini-Icons, Letterforms, Logos, (Logo)Poems'
Francis Edeline (Liège): `Two Aspects of Iconicity in Contemporary Poetry:The Concrete and Environmental Work of Ian Hamilton Finlay'
Michal Ephratt (Haifa): `Iconicity in Trade Marks (Word Marks)'
Andreas Fischer (Zurich): `What, if Anything, Is Phonological Iconicity?'
Olga Fischer (Amsterdam): `Iconicity and Grammaticalization'
Peter Halter (Lausanne): `Iconic Rendering of Motion and Process in the Poetryof W.C. Williams'
Bernd Kortmann (Freiburg): `Iconicity, Typology and Cognition'
Charles Lock (Copenhagen): `Peirce and Jakobson vs. Saussure, or Iconicity vs.Linearity'
H.H. Meier (Amsterdam): `Imagination by Ideophones'
Wolfgang G. Müller (Jena): `The Iconic Use of Syntax in British and AmericanFiction'
Max Nänny (Zurich): `Alphabetic Letters as Icons in Literary Texts'
Ralf Norrman (Tampere): `Reflections on Iconicity and on Love of Symmetry as aShaping Force in Thought and Language'
Robert Olsen (Groningen): `Whitman's Textual Incarnation: Writing as an Icon ofthe Poet's Body'
Ingrid Piller (Ithaca/Dresden): Iconicity in Brand Names'
Elzbieta Tabakowska (Cracow): `Linguistic Expression of Perceptual Relationships'
Friedrich Ungerer (Rostock): `Iconicity and Word-Formation'
Michael Webster (Allendale): `"singing is silence": Being and Nothingin the Visual Poetry of E.E. Cummings'
John White (London): `On Semiotic Interplay: Forms of Interaction between LiteraryIconicity and Indexicality'
The pre-registration fee is SFr. 100.- (1 SFr. ca. US$ 0.80, Nov. 1996). The deadlinefor the pre-registration fee is 15 February 1997. After that date the registrationfee will be SFr. 120.- It will not be refundable after 1 March 1997. The fee includestwo lunches, coffee breaks and a reception but it does not include the conferencewarming and the farewell dinner.
The symposium will be held in the main building of the University of Zurich overlookingthe town and the lake. Zurich is an attractive town with a medieval centre. It hasa rich cultural life and is famous for its museums, its shops -- and, of course,its banks. It also has an international airport.
For registration form and further information, please, contact the Symposiumorganizers:
Prof. Dr. Max Nänny
CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland
Dr. Olga Fischer
Universiteit van Amsterdam/HIL
Spuistraat 210, 1012 V
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
1997 Symposium on
Iconicity in Language and LiteraturThursday, 20 March 1997Room E 21, University Main Building
Chair: Bernd Kortmann
09:15—10:00 Hansheinrich Meier: ‘Imagination by Ideophones’
10:00—10:45 Andreas Fischer: ‘What, if Anything, Is Phonological Iconicity?’
10:45—11:15 Coffee Break
11:15—12:15 Plenary Chair: Olga Fischer
John Haiman: ‘Self-Abasement in Language:
A Case Study on the Viability of Metaphor’
12:15—13:30 Lunch in Mensa
Chair: Zsofia Ban
13:30—14:15 Walter Bernhart: ‘”Lullaby for Jumbo”: The Semiotic Status of Kinesis in Poetic Rhythm’
14:15—15:00 Peter Halter: ‘Iconic Rendering of Motion and Process in the Poetry of W.C. Williams’
15:00—15:45 Richard Bradford: ‘Jakobson and William Carlos Williams on the Iconic Poem’
15:45—16:15 Coffee Break
Chair: Olga Fischer
16:15—16:45 Eva Lia Wyss: ‘Iconicity in the Digital World – an Opportunity for an Individual Style? Iconicity in e-mail Messages’
16:45—17:45 Panel Iconicity in Commercial Language:
Michal Ephratt: ‘Why Aren’t Registered Word Marks Iconic?’
Andreas Fischer: ‘Graphological Iconicity in Print Advertising: A Typology’
Ingrid Piller: ‘Iconicity in Brand Names’
18:00 APERITIF RECEPTION, Orelli Saal Friday, 21 March 1997Room E 21, University Main Building
Chair: Hansheinrich Meier
08:30—09:15 Olga Fischer: ‘Iconicity and Grammaticalisation’
09:15—10:00 Friedrich Ungerer: ‘Iconicity and Word-Formation’
10:00—10:45 John White: ‘On Semiotic Interplay: Forms of Interaction between Literary Iconicity and Indexicality’
10:45—11:15 Coffee Break
11:15—12:15 Plenary Chair: John Haiman
Ivan Fónagy: ‘Why Iconicity?’
12:15—13:30 Lunch in Mensa
Chair: Wolfgang G. Müller
13:30—14:15 Max Nänny: ‘Alphabetic Letters as Icons in Literary Texts’
14:15—15:00 Claus Clüver: ‘Mini-Icons, Letterforms, Logos, (Logo)Poems’
15:00—15:45 Michael Webster: ‘“singing is silence”: Being and Nothing in the Visual Poetry of E.E. Cummings’
15:45—16:15 Coffee Break
Chair: Wilhelm Füger
16:15—17:00 Wolfgang G. Müller: ‘The Iconic Use of Syntax in British and American Fiction’
17:00—17:45 Robert Olsen: ‘Whitman’s Textual Incarnation: Writing as an Icon of the Poet’s Body’
17:45—18:30 Matthias Bauer: ‘Iconicity in the Metaphysical Poets’ SATURDAY, 22 MARCH 1997Room E 21, University Main Building
Chair: Peter Halter
08:30—09:15 Bernd Kortmann: ‘Iconicity, Typology and Cognition’
09:15—10:00 Elsbieta Tabakowska: ‘Linguistic Expression of Perceptual Relationships’
10:00—10:45 Simon Alderson: ‘18th and 19th-Century Prose Iconicity: Innovation and Change’
10:45—11:15 Coffee Break
11:15—12:15 Plenary Chair: Max Nänny
Ralf Norrman: ‘Reflections on Iconicity and on Love of Symmetry as a Shaping Force in Thought and Language’
12:15—12:30 Concluding Remarks
19:00 FAREWELL DINNER
Zunfthaus zur Waag
Zsofia Ban: ‘Words, Index Fingers, Gaps: The Critique of Language in the Work of William Carlos Williams and Joseph Kosuth’
Wilhelm Füger: ‘Scriptsigns: Variants and Cultural Contexts of Iconicity in Joyce’
Ann Veronica Simon: ‘Mixed Diction and Its Accomplishments in To the Lighthouse’
Abstracts of Papers
Symposium on Iconicity in Language and Literature
University of Zurich/University of Amsterdam
20-22 March 1997
AbstractsSimon J. Alderson (Cambridge)"18th- and 19th-Century Prose Iconicity: Innovation and Change"
18th-century iconicity is perhaps most strongly associated with Pope's dictum that "the sound must seem an echo to the sense", together with Dr Johnson's later brusque scepticism about the whole business. And indeed the 18th-century exploration of the imitative properties of language in poetry -- particularly sound and rhythm -- is a fascinating story. It was a time when poets, celebrating and asserting the status of the English language, attempted to imitate the classical iconic models of Homer and Virgil, and so develop a native English imitative repertoire that could equal those illustrious forebears.
It will not do, however, to ignore the innovations in iconic form that were going on at the same time, but with far less critical attention, in the work of 18th-century writers of prose fiction. In this paper I explore the new types of iconic form being developed quite independently of classical models by writers like Fielding and Sterne -- forms often based on syntax and the properties of the text as material object - and the kinds of literary use such forms were put to. From here, I go on to trace a shift in sensibility and in practice in the 19th century, when prose iconicity was rethought and the kinds of literary uses it was put to altered dramatically, in writers like Ruskin and Dickens. The paper thus both charts the kinds of iconic forms practised in prose writing over a century, and explores the shifts in attitudes and values that accompanied the changes in prose iconic practice from the 18th to the 19th centuries.
Zsofia Ban (Budapest)"Words, Index Fingers, Gaps: The Critique of Language in the Work of William Carlos Williams and Joseph Kosuth"
The late 1950s and early 60s brought about a momentous paradigm shift in the epistemic order of American culture which came about as a result of the superimposition of electronic over typographic culture. This led to an unrestricted extrapolation of sight and sound, and to a new synchronic order of binary oppositions. American culture had to come to terms with, indeed digest, the radically new kinds of images consumed in previously unthinkable quantities. The overconsumption of images resulted in a discrediting of the previously hallowed status of the image in poetry and art, inducing both poets and artists to seriously question and reconsider the function and language of literature and art. Questions of iconicity, referentiality, representation, originality, difference and differance, presence and absence were highlighted with heightened urgency, paralleled by a radical change in the role of the art work as sign.
My paper discusses two exemplary figures of this specific moment in American cultural history, one a poet (the ageing W.C. Williams), the other an artist (Joseph Kosuth). Both poet and artist worked towards a deconstruction of the image and traditional iconic strategies in poetry and art respectively, through the domain of language. If Williams was trying to reach pure idea or concept by traveling from the direction of language (poetry) towards the "promised land" of art, Kosuth, in his own version of Concept Art which presented texts as images, was attempting to do the same along a reverse trajectory, i.e. by moving from the domain of visual art towards that of language. I see their parallel efforts as the index fingers, almost touching, of God and Adam in Michelangelo's famous fresco. A blow-up of the small gap between their fingers could well function as my visual motto. True to the double-edged, undecided nature of their ventures, it would be an indexical icon pointing to and/or standing for their necessaril blighted efforts to actually touch and become one.
Matthias Bauer (Münster)"Iconicity in the Metaphysical Poets"
Iconic devices have repeatedly been noticed as characteristic features of Metaphysical poetry. With a few exceptions, however, critical attention has focussed on rather obvious examples, such as George Herbert's pattern poems. It is my purpose to show that these evident cases may be regarded as signposts leading on to more secret instances of iconic representation. In particular, I would like to discuss how this very concept, the progression from the obvious (the outside or bark) to the concealed (the inside or core) is expressed by iconic means, and how these means serve to realize the poetic truth of the religious subject of Metaphysical poetry. When, for example, words are used which enclose or contain other words, language itself is presented as giving evidence to the process of dis-covering truth. Thus, in Herbert's "Paradise", the "pruning" of the rhyming words iconically points to the divine gardener's correcting hand which, by cutting away an overgrowth of sin, makes visible again the divine likeness of man. In a similar way, anagrammatic wordplay may be read as an iconic representation of the literal re-ordering to be experienced by the Christian who hopes to be saved.
Walter Bernhart (Graz)"'Lullaby for Jumbo': The Semiotic Status of Kinesis in Poetic Rhythm"
Commonly, the metrical and rhythmical dimensions of poetical texts are encoded only imperfectly in written representations of the texts. The situation is different in the representations of Edith Sitwell's poetry from Façade (1922), which indicate accents and durations of syllables by musical notation. In addition, many of the poems intentionally apply dance forms and other "cultural units" of a kinetic nature, which thus can be analysed from a semiotic point of view.
The paper discusses the semiotic status of these rhythmical structures by applying findings of musical semiotics to the sound stratum of the poetical texts. The rhythmical phenomena can be interpreted in terms of iconicity (as "representational metres" or "kinetic metaphors"), or as "intrinsically coded acts" (Eco), or as "index signs" (Karbusicky), depending on esthetic perspectives and theoretical positions.
Richard Bradford (Coleraine)"Jakobson and William Carlos Williams and the Iconic Poem"
I will offer a particular view of iconicity in poetry, based upon the concept of double pattern developed in a number of my books. The double pattern involves the relationship between poetic and non-poetic stylistic registers. The self-consciously iconic poem is that which deliberately tests the linearity of non-poetic language against the literal and figurative 'shape' of its chosen formal design. The most obvious example of this is the visual poem which looks like some element of its theme, but my paper will focus upon an activity that attends the construction of all poems: the point at which the act of selection from the paradigmatic bag of choices disrupts or terminates the axis of combination or linear syntax. I will expand upon Jakobson's model and show that, not only in rhymed poems but in all examples of the poetic line, the poet is using the two axes of language to create a shape, a tactile object. Jakobson's diagram of the two axes with the selective as vertical and the combinative as horizontal is more than a typographical convenience. It describes the actuality of making and shaping the text.
Jakobson and William Carlos Williams, although unaware of each other's existence, conducted a dialogue in the 1920s and 30s. Williams struggled to break away from the non-iconic linearity of his Imagist beginnings and re-engaged with the pre-modernist dilemma of how to make immediacy part of a durable printed object. Jakobson in his work on the two axes of language is similarly involved in an exploration of the relationship between the physical properties of the text and its transcendent, transparent function -- influenced partly by his involvement with Futurism.
I have touched on these issues in my book on Jakobson but I will use the paper to fully explore the Jakobson-Williams connection as a significant moment in the history of poetry and poetry criticism.
Claus Clüver (Bloomington)"Mini-Icons: Letterforms, Logos, (Logo)Poems"
Even though as a philosophical and semiotic concept "iconicity" may beprofoundly problematic, imitation, i.e. representation based on perceived similarity, appears to be part of the verbal behavior of many if not all cultures. Phonic imitation ranges from lexical onomatopoeia to complex patterns of "sound painting", and visual imitation has led to an even greater range of possibilities, from pictograms and ideograms to Arab calligraphic representations and 20th-century calligrams and from technopeignia and "carmina figurata" to many modes of modern visual poetry. The letters of most if not all alphabets were derived from iconic representations, and the design of letterforms appears even now to include implicit or explicit appeals to viewing them as verbi-visual icons.
Such realizations are likely to form part of our response to various types of alphabet poems composed in the 1950s and 60s by such typographers as Hansjürg Mayer and John Furnival; usually constellations formed of repetitions of just one letter, they can be read as vaguely iconic images whose representational force resides in the shape of the letters and their combination in space, without reference to verbal semantics. Less ambiguous, in most instances, is the iconic quality of advertising logos that arrange the initials of the company name in ways that suggest characteristic aspects of the firm's business in a striking and memorable image. Some of these provide an aesthetic satisfaction and have an appeal to the reader's imagination quite similar to the effect of such visual poems as Pedro Xisto's (mostly English-language) Logogramas. Aram Saroyan's one-word poems, which rely on slight manipulations of spelling, and Heinz Gappmayr's verbi-visual texts, intriguing examples of minimal conceptual poetry, seemingly operate on the margins of iconicity, although one can also argue that they foreground the core of the problem of the relation of the sign to its object: we can read them as "mini-meta-icons".
Michal Ephratt (Haifa)"Why Aren't Registered Word Marks Iconic?"
Peirce, in dividing signs according to their relation between representamen and object, obtained the following hierarchy: icons, indices and symbols. Peirce held this division to be the most fundamental division of signs. Any sign is iconic if its representamen partakes of some character of its object. Peirce further divided iconic signs into three descending levels according to the relatedness of their properties: images, diagrams and metaphors. Trade marks are signs whose objects are commercial goods or services. Being signs, registered trade marks constitute a legitimate objective for the application of Peirce's semiotic hierarchies. Restricting the scope to word marks - the reason for this will be explained below -- I show that word marks do not distribute randomly in Peirce's hierarchy: there is a inverse relation between iconicity levels and registered word marks.Economic nature of trade marks
Trade marks are defined under the U.K. Trade Mark Act 1994 as: "Any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings". The Act then goes on to state that "A trade mark may, in particular, consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging" (as quoted in Firth, 1995:143). Over the years (since the Middle Ages) trade marks have served to fulfil the following functions: identification, physical source, anonymous source, quality, advertising and merchandising (Wilkof, 1995:19, and see 19-36). For a mark to meet any of these functions, it must reduce the likelihood of deception by being unique and distinct. Monopoly rights in a sign, or "the right to exclude others from the use of the trade mark" (Kerly, 1972:277 emphasized in source, and see also ib. 462, 464; Firth, 1995:147; Landes and Posner, 1987:266), is the essence of trade marks. The special monopolistic economic status of trade marks is a direct consequence of their various functions. Ever since 1623 (Cutler's Company Act), through the 1862 Merchandise act, and 1883 Patent Designs and Trade Mark Act (which is the legal basis of current acts), legal systems -- legislation, court rulings and the appointment of an official registrar -- all enforce the economic status of trade marks. To do so, legislation, as seen from the quote of the 1994 UK Act, states the conditions for admitting the status of a registered (legally protected) trade mark to a sign. Cases of infringement of such signs are dealt with in court under the trade mark act and "passing off" laws. Other cases, concerning registration of trade marks that may be brought before the court, are appeals against the registrar regarding his/her refusal to admit trade mark status to a sign. Before moving to the semiotic aspect, it should be emphasized that these restrictions hold only concerning registered trade marks.Semiotic nature of trade marks
As has been shown, for a sign to serve its economic function, trade marks legislation (e.g. UK 1994 ACT) demands that the sign is "capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings". Formed to deal with signs, there are in fact two semiotic demands: (1) the representamen must be visual (graphic medium), (2) the sign must distinguish: a unique correspondence should obtain between this graphic representamen, the object and their interprat (i.e., meaning). I will claim that fulfilment of each of these conditions results in non-iconic (opaque) rather than iconic signs. Put differently, as the sign in question manifests closer representamen -- object properties, it is less likely to be admitted registration as a trade mark.
(1) Peirce and Saussure both hold onomatopoeia to represent the tightest possible verbal representamen and object similarities. Yet as more and more delicate imitatory qualities are shared by the representamen and object similarities, it becomes sometimes even impossible to represent these graphically. For the same reason, iconic signs whose representamen does not belong to the visual field (such as smell for perfumes, tastes for dishes) are automatically excluded as trade marks.
(2) Looking now at the second condition one can see that any representamen that imitates or shares an intrinsic property of the object must be ruled out as a trade mark, since it can not distinguish the specific "goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings". An often quoted example of this would be packaging (no one can obtain exclusive rights on a bottle for handling liquids, since this would force excluding all others the right to use or advertise bottles).Iconicity in Word Marks
"Kerly's law of trade marks and trade names" is the authoritative manual, i.e., practitioners' book of legislation, cases and legal analysis thereof. The first edition was composed by Sir Duncan M. Kerly in England in 1894. Its most recent edition is the twelfth from 1986. According to Kerly (1983:75), "words are highly valued as trade marks, since when well chosen they combine necessary quality of distinctiveness with convenience for being remembered and referred to". This study will concentrate on iconicity of word marks. Justice Parker stated that: "... apart from the law as to trade marks, no one can claim monopoly rights in the use of a word or a name" (quoted in Kerly, 1983:351).
Being a case of trade marks, word marks are also subject to the two restrictions mentioned above. Because they are verbal signs, signs whose representamen is a sequence of phones, or letters, the question arises as to what the relation is between common language and word marks, and how these relations affect the iconicity of word marks. Like trade marks, word marks are economic objects. Like words, they are linguistic objects. All linguistically oriented attempts to classify word marks show that word marks do not constitute a homogeneous linguistic class. They utilize the whole variety of etymological sources, morphological formation rules and the vast set of parts of speech (Praninsksas, 1968; Kapferer, 1992:83-91).
Here, as in any of the other forms of unfair competition (monopoly), granting exclusive right entails preventing all others from enjoying these rights. Both the legislator and the court have to weigh benefits: the public vs. the individual. Or, in the case of word marks, the public as speakers of a language (speakers as owners who have the right to freely exercise the lexicon and grammar of their language) vs. the public as consumers of goods tagged by word marks (brands, see Kerly, 1983:146). As Lord Cohen (quoted by Kerly 1983:94) puts it: "The court should be careful not to interfere with other persons' rights further than is necessary for the protection of the claimant, and not to allow any claimant to obtain a monopoly further than is consistent with reason and fair dealing" (see also Firth, 1995:74).
This means that in order to allow the admission of exclusive rights to a proprietor in a sign without any loss to the common language, word marks must be as distinct as possible from common language. Only this way can they fulfil the second condition and distinguish "goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings". According to Lord Herschell: "An invented word is allowed to be registered as a trade mark, not as a reward of merit, but because its registration deprives no member of the community of the rights which he possesses to use the existing vocabulary as he pleases" (Kerly 1983:77). Justice Parker stated that "before a word qualifies as an invented word, it must not only be newly coined in the sense of not being already current in the English language, but it must be such as not to convey any obvious meaning to the ordinary Englishman" (quoted in Kerly, 1983:78).
The most preferred words to serve as word marks are then invented words that are least linked to the representamen in the common language (e.g. Exxon for standard Oil; Dacron for textile). Semiotically they are unmotivated symbols. In my talk I shall demonstrate the non-iconicity preference in word marks (Ephratt 1996). After looking at examples of rejected iconic marks due to graphic conditions, I shall break down the distinctiveness conditions and show cases where diagrammatic signs were rejected for registration as word marks, e.g.
- signs of chemical substance to name pharmaceutical products were not admitted registration;
- use of archaic words frequently serves poetic language as a means for diagrammatically presenting content from previous eras. Interestingly, because of the second condition, such words can serve as word marks, not to convey antiquity or specific elite connotations, but only because they are not in use in current language and so they are not descriptive any more (e.g. Sheen);
- geographical names are admitted registration (under Trade Mark Act but not under the Lisbon Amendment or the Stockholm Convention) only in cases where pragmatic knowledge of the consumers would rule out the geographic interprat (e.g., Mongolia, Arctic roll);
- for a compound sign to be admitted registration it has to undergo considerable morphotactic operations so that the source components are not noticed in the fusion (representamen) (e.g. Saab
- Sierra, Alpha, Alpha, Bravo). similarly, a change of spelling does not constitute a different word (e.g. Cwik, U-C-it).
The same goes for metaphors. Metaphors are accepted for registration as a function of the interprat: if the features common to the vehicle (common language or common to the trade) and to the tenor (goods or services) are essential features of both then the metaphor would be held descriptive and not admitted registration. Only non-distinctive features would be considered as acquiring second meaning. Here cases are included where descriptive words of the common language are accepted as word marks only in cases where semantic interprat is so disjoint form the original interprat to rule out deception (compare Apple for computers and Orlwoola for textile).
One can also mention genericness, where due to high reputation and wide usage a word mark might lose its distinctiveness, enter the common language (publici juris) and subsequently lose its status as a word mark (be removed from the registry). Examination of guidelines for word mark proprietaries on how to protect their mark from becoming generic, also indicates non-iconicity.References
Ephratt, Michal (1996) "Word marks: Economic, legal and linguistic entities", International Journal for Semiotics of Law, Vol. 9(27), pp. 259-288.
Firth, Alison (1995) Trade Marks: The New Law, Dorchester: Jordans.
Kapferer, Jean-Noel (1992) Strategic Brand Management, New York: The Free Press.
Kerly, Duncan M. (1983) Kerly's Law of Trade Marks and Trade Names, Eleventh edited by T. A. Blanco White and Robin Jacob, London: Sweet & Maxwell.
Landes, William M. and Posner, Richard A. (1987) "Trademark law: An economic perspective", Journal of Law & Economics, Vol. 30, pp.265-309.
Peirce, Charles S. (1965) Collected Papers, Cambridge: Harvard University press.
Praninskas, Jean (1968) Trade Name Creation, The Hague: Mouton.
Wilkof, Neil J. (1995) Trade Mark Licencing, London: Sweet & Maxwell.
Andreas Fischer (Zurich)"Graphological Iconicity in Print Advertising: A Typology"
The conventions of the (Roman) alphabet coupled with the technical limitations of typesetting - waning now in the age of the computer - are responsible for the fact that iconicity is comparatively rare in writing, the main exceptions being experimental prose and poetry on the one hand, and advertising on the other. Based on a substantial collection of examples (to be presented at the symposium), this panel presentation will attempt a typology of graphological iconicity in print advertising, beginning with the iconic possibilities of the Roman alphabet and moving on to areas where writing is combined with, or merges into, non-alphabetical signs/icons of various kinds.
Writing by means of the Roman alphabet is governed by a series of conventions which are taken for granted so much that most writers never question, let alone violate them. On the one hand these conventions serve certain practical purposes (writing from left to right favours right-handed people; spaces between sequences of letters correspond to folk-linguistic notions concerning words and facilitate reading, etc.), but the fact that they are by no means universal highlights their conventionality. On the other hand these very conventions also contain an iconic potential which is dormant under normal circumstances, but which becomes foregrounded as soon as a convention is flouted. Print advertising, which aims at attracting a reader's attention and at getting a message across as effectively as possible, exploits such violations to great effect.
The following is a - probaby still incomplete - list of such conventions, together with their iconic potential. Items 1 to 6 play with the conventions of Roman writing either by reversing or by over-emphasizing them, but they respect the limitations of ordinary type. Items 7 to 10, on the other hand, contain additional iconic elements and thus go beyond the standard repertoire of the letters of the Roman alphabet and of standard punctuation.
1. Writing proceeds from left to right: a change of direction (reversed letters, words, or sentences) signifies change, reversal or return.
2. The primary direction of writing is horizontal. Writing vertically or diagonally from bottom to top signifies upward movement etc., writing from top to bottom the opposite (see Lakoff and Johnson's 'orientational metaphors', HAPPY IS UP, SAD IS DOWN, MORE IS UP, LESS IS DOWN, etc.).
3. Letters within words follow each other at about equal intervals: crowded letters signify compression, tightness and lack of space, loosely spaced letters signify space and 'room to breathe'. Similar effects are achieved by contrasting ordinary with bold type.
4. Capital letters, in English, highlight the beginnings of sentences, names and the first-person pronoun (in German they also mark nouns). When they are used emphatically, as iconic signals, capitals may indicate importance or great size, especially when they are contrasted with lower case letters.
5. Conventionally, words are separated by empty spaces and syntactic units are indicated by punctuation marks. The omission of spaces between words or of punctuation marks signifies uninterrupted, 'nonstop', smooth progression, while deliberately excessive punctuation indicates interruption(s). Incomplete words and sentences stand for sudden, usually unwelcome termination (hostile interruption, death, etc.). Missing letters or words indicate absence or loss.
6. Printed lines tend to be of equal length and margins are respected. Violations such as over-long lines indicate transgression and lack of restraint.
7. Letters or whole words are crossed out or completely deleted, iconically signifying suppression, taboo-ing, and the like.
8. Letters from other, non-Roman alphabets (Cyrillic, Greek, etc.) iconically indicate the presence of the culture identified with that alphabet (Greek lettering, for example, may advertise Greek food).
9. Words or letters contained in business logos may be used like (and in combination with) ordinary letters. In advertising copy they thus iconically evoke the firm or product they represent. (Example: The word warranted with the double <r> represented by the Rolls Royce logo.)
10. Pictures of objects that resemble letters may replace these letters and thus, like the logos just mentioned, evoke the object at the same time as the letter. (In the Swiss STOP AIDS campaign, the picture of a rolled-up, circular condom consistently replaces the letter O.)
Andreas Fischer (Zurich)"What, if Anything, Is Phonological Iconicity?"
This paper will be a critical discussion of phonological iconicity, which in my opinion is far from uniform as a concept. I will argue that the term "phonological iconicity" is used as a cover term for at least three quite (or even: completely) different phenomena, which I call - provisionally - "auditory, associative and articulatory iconicity". I will discuss each of these in detail and will pay particular attention to two specific questions, namely: to what extent are they truly iconic in nature (iconicity versus convention), and what is their psycholinguistic reality?
Olga Fischer (Amsterdam)"On the Role Played by Iconicity in Grammaticalisation Processes"
It is quite generally assumed in studies concerned with grammaticalisation that this is a process that is steered semantically, in which grammatical or formal changes as it were follow cognitive-pragmatic ones. The process is usually seen as unidirectional. In other words, a grammaticalisation process as a rule begins with independent, lexical elements (showing full referential meaning), which in the course of time generalise in meaning, turning into relational, more purely grammatical elements. The process is accompanied by a subsequent loss in formal substance, i.e. the elements in question are reduced phonetically and become positionally more and more fixed. Thus, one could see it as a development along an axis, from a concrete pole to an abstract one, or (in the words of Plank 1979) from the more iconic to the more symbolic.
In the last ten to fifteen years, a great number of studies have appeared on this subject (cf. Heine and Reh 1984, Heine, Claudi and HÅnnemeyer 1991, Traugott and Heine 1991, Hopper and Traugott 1993, Pagliuca 1994), and indeed most cases reported on show a development more or less like the one described above. Thus, on the face of it, the unidirectionality hypothesis, the gradual nature of the process ("evolutional continuum"), and the idea that it is caused by "conceptual manipulation" and "conversational implicatures", seem to be validated. In spite of that I would like to put a few question marks here and there on the basis of an analysis of two cases of grammaticalisation in the history of English. The first case, the development of have before the to- infinitive, I will consider only very briefly, since I reported on this on an earlier occasion (Fischer 1994). The second concerns the grammaticalisation of the preposition to before the infinitive into an infinitival marker, a kind of affix. These two cases have been compared with similar processes in other languages involving the same, what Heine et al. (1991) have termed, "source-concepts", and have been generally considered prototypical instances of grammaticalisation. However, when one looks at the data in more detail, it emerges that these two cases are not all that straightforward. I believe that it can be shown that iconic principles (e.g. the principle of isomorphism, the proximity or distance principle) have interfered in the process, and that this evidence calls into question some of the main tenets of grammaticalisation, and perhaps even the (independent) nature of the process itself.
Ivan Fónagy, Paris"Why Iconicity? Why Now?"
Speech units - speech-sounds, words, utterances - are the product of a dual encoding procedure. All linguistic units - phonemes, lexemes, phrases, sentences - generated by the Grammar have to pass in live speech through a Distorter (or Modifier) conveying complementary messages, integrated into the original linguistic message. The principles which govern sensible distortions are preverbal (gestural, in a broad sense) and pristine. The dialectic play between Grammar and Distorter has the capacity to generate an infinite variety of complex messages.
Individual style (vocal, lexical, syntactic, paraphrastic) could be conceived of as recurrent distortions conveying a consistent message. This holds equally for the style of a literary trend, an epoch or a literary genre. The guided regression to a preverbal and preconceptual level of verbal and mental evolution plays a central role in poetry. It is also the source of dynamic synchrony (liveliness), and the motor of linguistic change.
We know more about the historical (political) background of the physei/thesei debate in Ancient Greece than the reasons of the present explosion of interest in iconicity. We might at best formulate hypotheses to be confirmed or disconfirmed by the future evolution in linguistics.
Wilhelm Füger (Berlin)"Scriptsigns: Variants and Cultural Contexts of Iconicity in Joyce"
Joyce's artistic use of the graphic dimension of texts in general and letters in particular (most obvious in the Aeolus episode of Ulysses and the Nightlessons chapter in Finnegans Wake) is so well-known that it hardly seems to deserve any further comment. Still, his specific ways of exploiting the iconic aspects of letters and cyphers can be further elucidated by viewing them from a large-scale perspective of major shifts of paradigm in cultural history. It can thus be shown that
1. Joyce's procedures are based on three layers of provenance that can clearly be differentiated from one another, namely a prehistorical, a classical, and a modern one; and that
2. there is one particular type of alphabet (human, i.e. anthropomorphic alphabets) that Joyce apparently was familiar with but which has so far escaped his critics' attention.
John Haiman (Saint Paul)"Self-Abasement in Language: A Case Study on the Viability of a Metaphor"
Style is to content as image or performance to reality, in a Western tradition going back at least to Plato. It is seen as a non-essential, inflated, artificial, and misleading wrapping around an essential inner truth. A survey of some self-abasing styles confirms the validity of this metaphor, even in those cases where the image one projects is of someone smaller than the speaker truly believes him- or herself to be. In particular, a self-abasing style (like every other style) is essentially iconic, while the substance of what is said is more or less symbolic.
By a coincidence of metaphors, the object/wrapping image is also part of the very etymology of language and meta-language. Since grammaticalization with its attendant reduction and bleaching is a well-attested source of metalinguistic language, this seems to contradict the image of metalanguage as something on the outside of language. It seems rather that a "composting" metaphor, with metalanguage on the inside, and the object language on the outside, is more appropriate.
The paradox is easily dismissed as another example of the imprecision and sloppiness of metaphorical imagery. It is more revealing, however to take the paradox seriously, and reevaluate our understanding of notions like "style" and "the object language", as well as of "language", as objects in the world. The paradox arises (I contend) because of the peculiar status of language, whose essence at every level is not to be something, but to be about something else.
Peter Halter (Lausanne)"Iconic Rendering of Motion and Process in the Poetry of William Carlos Williams"
In an article published in 1983, Marjorie Perloff noted that for Williams "the typographical lay-out of the page was not a side-line ... but a central fact of poetic discourse." In the past twenty years, several articles and chapters in books have been devoted to the "visual text" of William Carlos Williams, but the subject is far from being exhausted. The range and subtlety of iconic devices in Williams's poetry is not only considerable, its exploration indeed provides us with fresh insights into Williams's poetry and, on a more general level, into the function and importance of iconicity in modern Anglo-American poetry.
Williams realized not only very early in his career that he had "to give a design" to his poems, he also learned, in particular from contemporaneous movements in painting such as Cubism, that all art is dynamic and has to include the viewers/readers in their process of perception. Williams understood that the art work thus designed by the painter or the poet comes alive in the act of viewing or reading. In a poem, the eye of the reader goes from word to word and line to line, in a process in which the mind (in interaction with the inward eye and the inward ear) gradually builds up a complex whole out of the accretion of details.
In terms of iconicity, such an awareness of the process of reading opens up a range of possibilities beyond the visual dimension, i.e. beyond the pleasures of imitating the shape of an object described in poem. Williams for instance often creates a "design" that aligns the rhythm or cadence of reading with the movement (and its concomitant rhythm) of the objects or people described in the poems. By means of the distribution of words on the page, the shapes and gaps created by line breaks, stanza breaks and other devices, the poet influences or "manipulates" the act of reading. The poem is turned into a kind of dance in which the reader, going from line to line, empathizes with the (e)motion or life of the objects (animals, people) referred to. The act of reading is turned into a kinesthetic experience which makes sure that "poetic knowledge" is much more than a purely cerebral or mental experience. "A thing known passes from the mind into the muscles," Williams had noted as early as 1919 in "Kora in Hell."
Bernd Kortmann (Freiburg)"Iconicity, Typology and Cognition"
The basic question that will be discussed in this paper is the following. If we adopt the iconicity of language as a working hypothesis, what can language typology contribute to a better understanding of the structure of human cognition?
This fundamental issue will be discussed in the light of the results by a typological study of the morphology and semantics, including the form- meaning relationships, of more than 2,000 adverbial subordinators (like while, after, if, because, although) taken from some 50 European languages. It will be argued that the morpho-semantic analysis of these connectives allows us to formulate hypotheses on the internal structure of one of the central domains of human cognition, responsible for our search for discourse coherence by establishing semantic links between propositions. This domain - the semantic space of adverbial relations like simultaneity, anteriority, condition, cause, or concession - can be shown to exhibit a core-periphery structure in terms of cognitive centrality and an independent structure in terms of degrees of cognitive complexity (e.g. concession as an adverbial relation which exhibits a much higher degree of cognitive complexity than, for example, simultaneity). The central guiding assumption for making claims on the (relative) cognitive complexity of a given adverbial relation on the basis of the morphology of its grammatical markers is one of iconicity: concepts which are recurrently expressed by morphologically simple markers are cognitively primitive or at least less complex than concepts which are recurrently expressed by morphologically complex markers.
The results of this study confirm hypotheses made in other branches of linguistics, such as pragmatics, psycholinguistics and historical linguistics. They also illustrate the idea of economy and iconicity as competing motivations in language use and language change.
Hansheinrich Meier (Amsterdam/Schaffhausen)"Imagination by Ideophones"
Contrasting attitudes of linguistics towards onomatopoeia (echoism, sound-symbolism, phonaestasia, ideo-phony, psychomorphism). Critical reactions and theoretical reductionism. Characteristics of the phenomena brought out by objections raised against greater significance they might assume.
Ideophones as icons or natural, non-arbitrary signs. Some history of respective views and the related terminology. The phonaestheme as essential part of the ideophone. Regularities in phonaesthetic creation, variation and blending. A phonaesthetic load potentially present in any sememe as one of up to forty lexicological dimensions.
Orbiting of words in and out of the onomatopoeic sphere. "Graphic onomatopoeia". Various applications of ideophones: morphogrammatically, and in certain registers (trade names, advertising, comics, technical terms).
The nature of the icon or of the image-forming ("imagination") in ideophones. Acoustic, optic, kinetic (etc.) elements are only signals of a more comprehensive iconicity, which is typically subjective and almost motoric or sensory.
Outlook on further implications.
Wolfgang Müller (Jena)"The Iconic Use of Syntax in British and American Fiction"
It has been suggested that co-ordination is "the most natural syntactic resource for expressing diagrammatic structures" (Raffaele Simone 1995). This paper will, in accordance with this statement, examine various iconic functions of parataxis, expecially asyndetic parataxis, in the fictional representation of sequences of action and mental processes, but it will also deal with iconic aspects of subordination and complex sentences in narrative texts. A further phenomenon that will be discussed is the iconic function of elliptic syntax. An overall aim of the paper will be to demonstrate a homology between syntactic and semantic (and possibly even generic) structures in fiction. One specific area of interest will be the relationship between (grammatical) subject-object relations and (semantic) agent-patient relations in the fictional representation of actions as different as fighting and kissing.
Max Nänny (Zurich)"Alphabetic Letters as Icons in Literary Texts"
We are all familiar with the iconic use of alphabetic letters in concrete poetry, in some poems by e.e. cummings and in 20th century advertising. But writers since antiquity have used letters as iconic images of objects in their poetry and prose. From Shakespeare to the present day this alphabetic form of iconicity can also be found in English and American literature: single (and double) alphabetic letters have been employed as iconic signs in literary texts. In my paper I shall first make the distinction between the transparent, the translucent and subliminal use of alphabetic letters in what are generally taken to be 'normal' (that is, non-experimental or non-typographically-oriented) texts. I shall discuss a few examples of the iconic functions of various letters in literary texts. However, my primary focus will be on the letter O and how it has been used as the alphabetic icon of a variety of circular objects or of a circular process in, what I would call, mainstream literature. It is unavoidable that the traditional and widespread use of the letter O as an obscene icon since Shakespeare (together with that of the letter I) will have to be discussed too.
Ralph Norrman (Tampere)"Symmetry, Asymmetry and Iconicity"
In my theory - of love of symmetry as a shaping force in thought, language and literature - it is a premise that love of symmetry is a pan- human phenomenon. It is found in all periods, all societies and all individuals, although in varying forms and varying degrees of intensity.
Only one variety of symmetry is relevant in this context, namely bilateral symmetry. In bilateral symmetry there are two halves which are each other's mirror images or enantiomorphs. There are two constituent principles in bilateral symmetry: the principle of repetition and the principle of inversion. The elements of one half are repeated in the other half, and their order is inverted.
An example of bilateral symmetry in language is the rhetorical figure of chiasmus. In a chiastic sentence such as "Jack loves Jill, and Jill loves Jack" the elements Jack and Jill are repeated, and their order is inverted. Thus symmetry of form is created, and it mimes a symmetry in meaning (i.e. in this case reciprocity). A symmetry-meaning is often mimed in symmetry-form in language and literature. Thus iconocity is a relevant concept in studying, for instance, the role and function of chiasmus.
The interrelationship between symmetry and asymmetry in human thought, language and literature is complex and intricate. Love of symmmetry coexists with fear of symmetry. The uneasy relationship, in human thought and culture, between a persistent longing for symmetry, and an equally persistent instinct towards assertion of asymmetry, arises out of the conflict between two incompatible forms of iconicist desire. As humans we wish to create the world in our image in two irreconcilable ways: on the one hand to create symmetry, and thereby to see reflected in the world our own, bilaterally symmetric, human bodies; but on the other hand also to uphold asymmetry, and thereby to see reflected in the world another major characteristic feature of ourselves, namely lateralization, i.e. the fact that although the two halves of our bodies are similar (the same except inverted), they are also different, one half being dominant, because we are handed (usually right-handed), footed, eyed, and brained (usually left-brained).
Robert Olsen (Groningen)"Whitman's Textual Incarnation: Writing as an Icon of the Poet's Body"
Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass makes many references to the ways in which poetic discourse may be analogous to the human form. To name just a few of the allusions to this analogy, mention is made of the work's growth, its individuality, its biorhythmic meter, its long lines requiring broad breaths, its procreative power, its extensiveness and its mass. At several points, the poet also refers directly to the work as his body and to the reader as an elevated (perhaps transcendent) lover, who caresses the poet's members in reading various parts of his poem.
This poetic (and erotic) ideal is, as one can imagine, necessarily frustrated. Both in his poetry and his prose, Whitman often expresses a desire to make his writing as naked as possible but recognizes, in the end, that he is unable to avoid "indirection", disguise and even deceit. My paper will identify this unrealizable poetic exhibitionism as an iconic impulse in Whitman's discourse and try to determine to what extent it is expressed by an apparent anti-rhetorical stance that connects the stylistic qualities of clarity and plain-speaking with ethical virtues such as sincerity, humility and innocence.
My point of departure will be to examine the implicit analogy in Whitman's writing between the binaries of text/meaning (what we come to refer to as signifier/signified) and the duality of body/soul. Iconicity in the text reflects the extent to which the distinction between body and soul is both invoked and undermined. The point in which the poetry is able to become iconic would indicate that body can no longer be segregated from soul. Celebration of the pleasures of the flesh becomes equated with linguistic excess. The stylistic devices that recall corporeal functions, such as the rhythm of breathing, the comforts of repetition, the guilt-ridden joys of excessive appetite, have, consequently, corresponding features in a poetic discourse that takes pleasures in its own reiterations, contortions and expansiveness.
The prevalence of iconic features such as formulaic lines, thematic repetitions, intonation patterns that mime diminishing breath, variety of topics imitative of movement along America's "open" roads, all serve to represent the poet's corporeal existence. The enlargement of what this body contains to the extent that it includes all the multiplicity of an uninhibited and diverse national body reflects the transformation of the poet from private to a public figure whose poem becomes progressively less personal and more a socio-historical document.
Ingrid Piller (Hamburg)"Iconicity in Brand Names"
If indeed iconicity is prevalent in circumstances in which language is created, as the conference proposal argues, brand names will be a most promising area of research. Brand names, which are in large part a phenomenon of the 20th century, are continuously being created to name new products or to distinguish them from similar ones. The creative and financial efforts spent on a new brand name are considerable as the brand name is of prime importance in the marketing of a product and because various legal restrictions apply. Generally, it can be said that brand names are only rarely arbitrary linguistic signs. Usually some kind of secondary motivation can be found. Thus, the word Eagle used for a brand of car is motivated by its primary meaning. While in metaphoric brand names like Eagle the secondary motivation derives from a similarity in meaning, we look for a similarity between form and meaning in iconic ones. Although somewhat rarer, advertising experts have always been aware of the persuasive force of phonetic symbolism or the "physionomy of language" (cf. e.g. Klickow 1963 and 1964). Truly iconic brand names are onomatopoeic names like CatChow for a cat food, which to my mind imitates the sound a satisfied cat might make1 , or those names coined on a recurrent pattern of sound symbolism (e.g. the use of the close front vowel associated with smallness and endearment in Huggies (baby wipes), or Crunchie (breakfast cereal), or initial cr- in names of various food products, e.g. Crunchie, Crispie or Crisco. However, here I am more interested in brand names that are not truly iconic but in which form and meaning are linked through diagrammatic iconicity, i.e. they are characterized by a similarity not between sign and denotatum but between the relation of signs and the relation of denotata. I am going to discuss three different types of diagrammatic iconicity in brand names:
1. The brand name is part of another language or seems to be part of another language, and therefore the name suggests that the product so named is also part of another culture and has the qualities stereotypically associated with speakers of that language.
2. The brand name is not linked to another language but to a particular register of English, and thus connotates for instance the exactness and technological and scientific marvels usually associated with the language of technology.
3. The syntax of brand names is modeled as an iconic structure. While in general English, the determinant usually precedes the determinatum, word order in brand names is usually the other way round: as e.g. in Ford Escort the more general designation precedes the more specific one and thus the structure of the name mirrors the relative importance of the two (or more) designations.
Before discussing these three types of brand names in further detail let me address a theoretical issue that makes the study of iconicity in brand names particularly tricky: in modern consumer society various products from one product group differ little in their functionality. It is usually not their utilitarian character that is advertised but they are invested with additional emotional values such as freedom, comfort, prestige, modernity, power etc. Really "good" brand names, i.e. those with a powerful sales appeal, connotate these product properties and not the functional ones. Thus, when we look for similarity between form and meaning in brand names, we look for something quite intangible. Let me exemplify this by comparing two standard examples of iconicity from non-commercial language with iconic brand names: the full title of Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five is printed in the shape of a bomb - the form of the title mirrors the denotatum of the word bomb, "a hollow metal container filled with explosive, or with other chemicals of a stated type or effect" (LDELC) - and both title and lexeme may additionally be invested with connotational meanings such as "destructive", "causes suffering", "WW II" etc. Comparing this with CatChow we see, or rather can hear, that chow does neither imitate any sound that might pertain to the food nor the sound a cat might make while eating2 : there is no similarity between this form and the denotatum of the words "food" or "eating" but rather with a connotational meaning of them, "satisfaction". This similarity is "suggested" to the consumer because we all know that food does not necessarily produce satisfaction. Another example of diagrammatic iconicity should further clarify my point: in the (regular) English plural forms a more in form is related to a more in content. So, just as we get a longer form in cars than in car we get a similar quantitative relationship between the denotata of these two items. Compare this to LaFemme, the name of a 1955 trim option on the Dodge Custom Royal. The model is noteworthy for being the automobile industry's first appeal to women with a special pink and white color combination on the car and matching cape, boots, umbrella, shoulder bag and floral upholstery fabrics (cf. Gunnell 1992: 278). The name implies that just as LaFemme is a French phrase, so the automobile is part of French fashion.3 Now, there is no objective relationship whatsoever between this car and France: none of its parts was manufactured in France, no French couturier was involved in the design, and I doubt that pink and white was the Paris fashion of the day. So, the brand name does not mirror an objectively existing relationship as in the plural example but rather it CREATES this relationship, it "suggests" to the consumer that somehow or somewhere there is a relationship. This creation of similarities on the level of connotational rather than denotational meaning is typical of commercial language and should be borne in mind during the following discussion of the three types of diagrammatic iconicity in brand names I outlined above.
Brand names that are taken from another language than English, or are invented but comply with certain expectations people hold about the sound of words of another language suggest the "foreignness" of a product. Consumers are invited to assume that the stereotype/s they hold about the language in question, the area where it is spoken and its speakers will also apply to the product. A commonly held stereotype about France for instance is the attractiveness of French fashion and cuisine. And, sure enough, there are cosmetic products called clinique or Voile ParfumÇ, hosiery called L'Eggs, food products called LaYogurt or Courvoisier or cars called d'Elegance, La Comtesse or Parisienne. French is also spoken in Switzerland and here the stereotype differs: watchmakers and jewelers want to connote precision and reliability together with elegance and high value. In order not to confuse the consumer they usually print Suisse and/or Genäve a couple of times prominently somewhere in the ad. Examples are Corum, Maåtres Artisans d'Horlogerie, Suisse; Chopard Genäve, or Piaget, Maåtre Joaillier Ö Genäve. Spanish, on the other hand, is the language of the American South-West, and all the stereotypes about freedom, adventure, masculinity etc. are suggested to hold true for the product, too: in car names like Bravada, Caballero, El Camino or La Espada, or a calling card of the name Pronto. Italian is also often used to connote luxury and elegance as in the perfume name Dolce Vita Duo Prestige, but for fans of automobile racing it is also the language of men like Ettore Bugatti, Tazio Nuvolari or Alberto Ascari, and it comes as no surprise that we get car names like Avanti, Corsa, Gran Turismo or La Tosca. Most of the American brand names of this type are taken from Romance languages, but the meditative mantra of Hinduism Om can also be found on cosmetic products: it seems to promise a superior sense of perception as the slogan "the sixth scent" also indicates. Often the brand names are not really words of one or the other language. It is a common strategy to "turn English into Romance ones" by prefixing them with a le or la or el etc. Thus, L'Eggs (the hosiery comes in egg-shaped packages and obviously plays on legs), LaYogurt or El Morrocco (a car) turn perfectly English words into foreign ones. In some instances, this play with foreign languages gets really confusing as in Mikasa, the name of a furniture retailer, which I would identify as a spelling variant of Spanish mi casa "my house" but which a number of Americans I asked thought of as a Japanese name. It should also be noted that stereotypes are not identical around the English-speaking world but may differ in the various societies. Thus, Audi makes use of a stereotype about Germany and technological reliability with its German-speaking slogan Vorsprung durch Technik in Britain but not in the US.
A similar strategy of diagrammatic iconicity is employed in brand names that are part of a particular register of English. Just as acronyms are typical of the language for the specific purpose of technology, so the products they denote are suggested to be technologically and scientifically reliable and advanced. Most speakers of English have no clue what DECpc Lpv 433dx or 17GLsi on computers, or LN7, RT/10, SL 2 or XR-7 on cars stand for but they assume that these names stand for something, and probably something sophisticated. Names of this type suggest to the non-specialist that the product so named (usually a machine about which the consumer has little or no expert knowledge) is distinguished from others by its technological sophistication just as the sign used as a name differs from other words by its specific character. Names like Delta and Omega (both cars) combine the iconic representation of a high standard of technology that a letter suggests with being Greek, the language of learning par excellence.
A further interesting aspect of iconicity in brand names is their syntax: the typical combination of "name of producer" followed by "name of series, type, model etc." as in Saab Aero, Mercury Sable (cars), DECpc Lpv 433dx, Samsung SyncMaster 17GLsi (computers), Trump TAJ Mahal (gambling place in Atlantic City owned by Donald J. Trump) or Christian Dior Dolce Vita Duo Prestige (perfume) is extremely uncommon in the system of general English word order: combinations such as attorney general, president elect or notary public are exceptions from the general pattern in which the more general item follows the more specific one. I suggest that this uncommon structure in brand names mirrors the fact that the name of the producer is supposed to stay around for far longer than the name of a certain line or make and that it therefore has to take precedence over the latter in the mind of the consumer. If it comes to buying the product the first thing is that you enter the Saab instead of the Mercury dealership, or choose the DEC over the Samsung display area - choosing a particular Mercury or Samsung or whatever is secondary. The structure of the names mirrors these action sequences.
In summary, my paper demonstrates why brand names are a suitable but at the same time difficult field of investigation into iconicity. It then identifies three types of diagrammatic iconicity in brand names, and discusses them in detail: brand names taken from languages other than English, brand names taken from English for specific purposes, and the syntactic structure of complex brand names.Notes:
1 There is (or was: CIDE: "dated") a US slang noun chow for "food", which might derive from Chinese Pidgin English chowchow (cf. Romaine 1994: 166); the zero-derived verb chow (according to the LDELC also AmE slang) means "to eat as though one is very hungry, and showing pleasure".
2 Professor Fischer has pointed out to me that cats eat quite silently; my personal observation is of short panting-like sounds in rapid succession that are produced by the tongue as it "spoons" the milk and gnawing and squishing sounds with boned meat - it obviously depends on the type of food.
3 Generally, the implication could be "part of French culture" but fashion is the stereotypical aspect of French culture that is most frequently invoked in brand names.References:
CIDE: Procter, Paul et al.(eds.) (1995) Cambridge International Dictionary of English. Cambridge: CUP.
Gunnell, John (ed.) (1992) Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Iola, WI: Krause.
Klickow, Reinhard (1963) "Die Sprachphysionomik und ihre Verwendung bei der Konstruktion von Markennamen". Der Markenartikel 10, 960-965.
Klickow, Reinhard (1964) "Sprachpsychologische Untersuchungsmethoden bei Markennamen" Die Anzeige 40(6), 24-35.
LDELC: Summers, Della et al. (eds.) (1992) Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture. Harlow: Longman
Romaine, Suzanne (1994) Language in Society. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. Oxford: OUP
Vonnegut, Kurt (1966) Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: DELL
Ann Veronica Simon (Berkeley)"Mixed Dictions and Its Accomplishments in To the Lighthouse"
In this paper, I outline many senses in which Virginia Woolf's novel To The Lighthouse blends the diction of the narrator with the diction of characters. By making this analysis, I show that these two spheres of diction are knit together in such a way that the fabric of Woolf's prose may be seen as composed of and propelled along by this knitting at a fundamental level.
After arguing in some detail that this mingling of dictions occurs pervasively rather than superficially, I claim that the result cannot be separated from what the novel achieves by means of its experiments in tone, point of view, and irony. For one thing, the "fabric" created by the knitting together of dictions is strong, distinctive, and interesting enough to sustain a complex and emotionally charged portrait of the family as a whole even though the point of view of single characters is not sustained. For another, this blending of dictions heightens the extent to which Woolf's portraits of characters are emotionally charged, since the reader is exposed to both poetic language, which lavishes serious and/or fondly mocking attention on the characters in a diction too loftily stylized to be their own, and language poetic in the sense that it successfully mimics the movement and rhythm of individual characters' thoughts. Finally, Woolf's blending of diction enriches the reading experience by allowing knowledge of characters which is more complexly double-edged than would have been possible if the novel were written only (or primarily) in the diction of earnestly struggling characters, or only (or primarily) in the diction of a somewhat removed narrator. It becomes clear that at least two types of mimicry actually occur in the text: mimicry which allows the reader a feeling of intimate immersion in a given character's working mind, even if only for a few sentences at a time, and mimicry which involves a narrator hyperbolically "miming" a character's earnestness from an ironic distance. Both types of mimicry may be traced and discussed with reference to formal linguistic structures, such as lists and quotation marks.
Woolf's blending of dictions makes for a truly unique tone, a tone which supports literary experiment, as well as adding to both the intensity and the complexity of readers' knowledge of various characters.
Elzbieta Tabakowska (Krakow)"Linguistic Expression of Perceptual Relationships"
The notion of iconicity, generally undervalued or ignored by modern theory of language (especially generative grammar), has been gaining an increasingly prominent status within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics. Earlier insights (notably Haiman's work on iconicity in syntax, Enkvist's study of functional text structure, Langacker's observations on "nested locatives" or phonological reduction, etc.) are now seen as constitutive elements of a coherent description of the structure of language, considered in relation to human cognition. While grammatical analyses still involve mainly the sentence level, the search for cognitive principles of text and discourse organization has already proved revealing. It is on this higher level of organization that iconicity plays a significant role, standard examples quoted in the literature being anaphora and cataphora, cause-result relationships, or the iconicity principle in narration (Paprotte).
The paper will address the question of iconic representation of perceptual relationships in a text. It is a case study of a descriptive passage, written in English and based on a tourist guide. But, while a guide of this kind usually follows the principle of "literal" iconicity (i.e. the order of individual pieces of information follows the anticipated order in which the relevant objects are to be actually seen by the tourist), the purpose behind the text in question is to draw a mental path for somebody following the course of history, as it is reflected in the description of a famous cathedral. The metaphorical path of a goal-oriented mental perception finds its reflections on different levels of linguistic organization of the text (from the choice of lexical items, through the choice of grammatical forms to word order). It is claimed that it is this kind of extension that becomes one of the markers of a literary text - as different from a non-literary functional description.
Friedrich Ungerer (Rostock)"Iconicity and Word-Formation"
The paper starts from the assumption that the isomorphic form/content relationship of words can be seen as an instance of quantitative iconicity which favours a one-to-one correspondence between word-forms and cognitive concepts. In this context word-forms are seen in terms of lexical units; the notion of cognitive concept makes allowance for the prototype structure of these categories.
The iconic one-to-one principle is violated by all word-formation processes involving more than one concept. This means that only certain types of clipping and sound symbolic forms are not affected. Of the major word-formation processes, the violation is least offensive in the case of derivations. This will be explained by pointing out the special character of the cognitive basis of affixes.
Concerning compounds, fully transparent items like madman or darkroom do not pose great problems because the one-to-one relationship has been replaced by a comparable relationship that is also iconically satisfying (two word-forms, two concepts). Another relatively simple case are compounds that have already been lexicalized to such a degree that the competent speaker is no longer aware of the complex word-form and the complex cognitive structure, which means that the iconic relationship of one word-form/one concept has been restored, as in holiday or blackboard. The violation is, however, serious with regard to the innumerable transitional cases. These compounds (e.g. wheelchair, wallpaper) have two word-forms, but draw on a much larger array of cognitive concepts. Here iconicity may be seen as the driving force towards lexicalization, as already achieved in holiday or blackboard. In the more recent past, two other word-formation processes have been gaining ground for which the iconic one-to-one principle seems to be relevant in a new way: blending and acronym formation. Blends, especially the more recent journalistic coinages like infotainment, seem to be characterized by the artificial enforcement of the one-to-one principle. As a result, clashes between the two truncated word-forms are sometimes unpleasantly harsh, long-term institutionalization is not very frequent and not even intended in every case. Acronyms are based on the fragmentarization of their basic word-forms, normally the written forms. Yet once the initial letters have been picked as building materials for the new unit, an effort is made to reestablish an acceptable word-form, be it an alphabetical sequence (USA), an adaptation to existing syllable and stress patterns (yuppie, laser) or an imitation of existing words (PEN). Ideally, the original conceptual categories are also fused into a new concept, and the result is again an iconically satisfying one-to-one relationship.
Michael Webster (Allendale)"'singing is silence': Being and Nothing in the Visual Poetry of E.E. Cummings"
The American poet E. E. Cummings (1894-1962) created an iconic visual poetry based on his own idiosyncratic syntactic and spatial dislocations of words on the page. This same poet also wrote a great number of poems in traditional forms, especially sonnets and ballades. This paper examines how Cummings approached the themes of twilight and silent singing in both traditional and iconic forms. While Cummings used iconic techniques in all his poems, his visual poetry calls attention to these techniques by radical word-splitting, spatial arrangements of words, and syntactic dislocation. Far from being mere technical displays, however, Cummings' iconic poems embody in visual form the aphoristic rhetorical paradoxes of his poems written in more traditional forms.
Cummings used iconic techniques of presence and absence (visual form and blank space) to present in living form his philosophy of self-transcendence. Though this philosophy is expressed in fin-de-siäcle images like twilight and silence, it is actually a personal amalgam of Emersonian transcendentalism and American individualism. In his more traditional rhetorical poems, Cummings writes how at twilight, the moon, stars, and songs of birds emerge to blur and overwhelm the un-world, creating a transcendental world of being represented by words like are, is, if, am, dream, silence, mystery, miracle, nothing, nowhere, singing, grow, and begin. In the iconic poems, these ideas are also expressed in visual form. For example, in the poem "a // float" (CP 571) a parenthesis both stands for and is a sliver of the new moon. The moon is both present ("more // am than imagine") and absent ("more / dream than become"), both a part of this world and the dream-world. Closely allied with this present/absent dichotomy is another as well: the speaking / silent character of signs on the page. The moon-parenthesis is a silent visual sign, yet it sings within the meter of the poem. (Cummings' manuscripts show how he annotated this silent scansion.) The paradoxical trope of silent singing not only runs through many of Cummings' poems, it also combines visual technique and transcendental philosophy in a single image. The silent song of the visual page embodies Cummings' meditations on being and nothing, miming by iconic techniques of absence and presence the paradoxical disappearance of self and the un-world, and the emergence of a dream-world in which self and nature are one.References
Cummings, E. E. Complete Poems 1904-1962. Ed George J. Firmage. New York: Liveright, 1994. (Abbreviated CP).
The quote in my title is from the poem "all which isn't singing is mere talking" (CP804).
John J. White (London)"On Semiotic Interplay: Forms of Interaction between Literary Iconicity and Indexicality"
This paper takes as its starting-point the fact that C.S. Peirce's division of signs into icons, symbols and indices, and Charles Morris and Umberto Eco's subsequent (more differentiated) concept of 'iconicity' have, within the semiotic analysis of specifically literary sign-systems, tended to obscure the degree of aesthetic interaction between various type-signs and, more particularly, failed to do justice to the degree of interplay between iconicity and indexicality within the same literary sign or supersign. The main focus wiull therefore be on the extent to which there is a significant intreplay between iconic and indexical elements in works which have hitherto primarily been seen as paradigms of literary iconicity: i.e. drama and mimetically shaped poetry. By exploring selected illustrations from modern English drama, contemporary fiction and experimental shaped poetry, analysis will be offered of various forms of aesthetically productive interaction between iconic signs, supersigns ans iconic elements, on the one hand, and indexicaland (to a lesser degree) symbolic elements of semiosis, on the other. Examples will be taken, inter alia, from the following: Paul Auster: The Music of Chance, Peter Handke: Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied, Vladimir Nabokov: 'Signs and Symbols', the plays of Howard Brenton and David Hare, and Italian Futurist shaped poetry.
Eva Lia Wyss (Zurich)"Iconicity in the Digital World - An Opportunity for an IndividualStyle? Iconicity in E-mail Messages"
With regard to the developments in software technology of the last few years, iconicity is no longer something special. On the contrary - it has become very common. The symbols, icons and pictures of the huge hypertext construct called the world-wide web are flooding the verbal information. But the rapidly growing number of e-mail messages which are exchanged using the computer-aided communication systems, reveal different, interesting forms of iconicity.
These often quickly written messages, which can be located somewhere between the private and the public domain, are very strongly pre-structured texts which have to make use of a limited character set as well as restricted formatting elements.
The linguistic or poetic uses of iconicity are not altogether new. They are known from: a) avant-garde poetry (Mallarmé) and computer-generated pictures
* iconising, de-familiarising use of the letters of the alphabet
* repetition of characters or words as pseudosuperlatives
* using letters to form images b) the language of comics
* very frequent use of exclamation and question marks
* words capitalised as a indicator for accent/shouting New uses specific to electronic mail:
* character set and formatting elements
* emoticons, smiley faces
* e-mail "signatures" (trailing lines of messages) The primary effect of the above uses of iconicity is that they represent a humorous and often original way of dealing with computer-based texts.
On the sociolinguistic level, such usage shows that the individual is fighting against the structural restrictions of the medium, but also that quite a number of people would like to escape from the formal conventions of written communication, manifesting a trend towards a genre that could be called "written orality". The iconicity contained in e-mail messages effectively creates the impression of individuality, privacy and directness in semi-public computer communication.