Ikonizität in Personalpronomina : Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft

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Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft

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Ikonizität in Personalpronomina

Johannes Helmbrecht1


Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft. Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 211–244, ISSN (Online) 1613-3706, ISSN (Print) 0721-9067, DOI: 10.1515/zfsw.2004.23.2.211, July 2005

Publication History

14. April 2003
11. Juni 2004
Published Online:


It has been shown by Haiman and many others within the functional-typological framework that iconicity (in particular diagrammatic iconicity) plays a significant role in the creation of complex linguistic signs in the domain of syntax and morphology. The present paper provides an answer to the question in which way and to which degree iconicity is involved in the emergence and grammaticalization of personal pronouns. In the first part, a theoretical framework for the identification of iconic structures in personal pronouns is developed. The second part shows which properties of personal pronouns and their paradigms are iconic and which properties are not. In the third part, it is argued that a functional explanation of the formal gestalt of personal pronouns and their paradigms has to assume at least two conflicting factors, iconicity (transparency of form facilitating cognitive processing) and the Empathy Hierarchy (resulting in the unmarkedness of the most salient person/number categories in discourse and the erosion of iconicity). The evidence provided leads to the conclusion that it is not possible to equate markedness with iconicity as is proposed within the framework of natural morphology.

Citing Articles

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Michael Cysouw
Morphology, 2011, Volume 21, Number 2, Page 419
Martin Haspelmath
Cognitive Linguistics, 2008, Volume 19, Number 1, Page 1

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