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The Gestural Origin of Language$
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David F. Armstrong and Sherman E. Wilcox

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195163483

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195163483.001.0001

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Conceptual Spaces and Embodied Actions

Conceptual Spaces and Embodied Actions

(p.77) 5 Conceptual Spaces and Embodied Actions
The Gestural Origin of Language

David F. Armstrong

Sherman E. Wilcox

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines evidence for the ubiquity of iconicity in signed languages, a consequence of their transmission in the visual medium. Adopting a cognitive grammar framework, the iconic representation of space and time in signed languages is described. Iconicity is understood not as a relation between language and the external world, but as a mapping within multidimensional conceptual space, between the semantic and phonological poles of a symbol. This mapping can vary in distance from one of identity or self-symbolization, in which the thing represents itself, to one of iconicity, in which the semantic and phonological poles reside in roughly the same conceptual space.

Keywords:   cognitive linguistics, semantics, syntax, cognitivist framework, iconicity, sign language

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