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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Iconicity, Ratosh’s lexical innovations, and beyond

Michal Ephratt

Citation Information: Semiotica. Volume 2005, Issue 157, Pages 83–104, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2005.2005.157.1-4.83, October 2005

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Yonatan Ratosh (1909–1981), a renowned Hebrew poet, made his living as a translator. His translations and lists found in his lexical legacy, contain thousands of his suggestions for new Hebrew terms. Among them many instances stand out that manifest some sort of similarity between the concept and the term proposed by Ratosh, thus raising the issue of iconicity.

This paper takes a closer look at these instances, integrating theoretical aspects of iconicity and issues concerning lexicon in general, and Ratosh’s means of lexical innovations in particular.

Specifically, we first look at image (onomatopoeia, sound symbolism, and also metalanguage) and diagram (matters of order, diminutive and echo-words). We then move beyond the dyad to consider metaphor. After that discussion we point out the asymmetry caused by omitting folk etymology, metonymy, and ellipsis. We propose, then, that semiotics should restrict iconicity only to intrinsic relations within the sign itself, hence image and diagram, thus not contaminating iconicity with cases of secondness, thirdness, or endless conventionalism.

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