Spatial Cognition and Computation

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 31–50 | Cite as

Iconicity in American sign language: concrete and metaphorical applications

  • Sarah F. Taub
Article

Abstract

American Sign Language (ASL) describes spatial information(e.g., shapes, configurations, movement and location of figures inspace) through a productive system of iconic ``classifier'' predicates.Many lexical items denoting concrete objects or actions are derived fromthe classifier system; many lexical items and non-lexicalizeddescriptions of abstract objects or actions are derived from theclassifier system as well, through metaphorical mappings from thespatial domain to abstract domains. Starting from the ASL data, thispaper presents an ``analogue-building'' model of the creation of iconicforms, which can cover spoken-language as well as sign-languageiconicity, and a ``double mapping'' analysis of metaphorical iconicity.The double mapping analysis is supported by the existence of signs thatshare a metaphorical mapping but not an iconic mapping. The data andanalyses presented here underscore the importance of space inconceptualizing non-spatial domains.

ASL cognitive linguistics iconicity metaphor thinking for speaking 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah F. Taub
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ASL, Linguistics and InterpretationGallaudet UniversityNE WashingtonUSA

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