Iconicity vs. Frequency: the case of Paamese

  • Simon Devylder (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Grammatical asymmetries in possessive constructions are overtly coded in about 18% of the world languages (Dryer & Haspelmath, 2013). What primarily motivates these grammatical asymmetries is controversial and has been at the crux of the iconicity vs. frequency debate (e.g. Croft, 2008; Haiman, 2008; Haspelmath, 2008). I propose to confront both arguments to the grammatical asymmetries of Paamese possessive constructions (Crowley, 1982, 1996; Devylder, 2014), and to look for their primary motivating factor in their multidimensional experiential context. After a careful account of four experiential dimensions of distance, the degrees of experiential distance appears to systematically correspond to the degrees of formal distance of the possessive constructions used to refer to these experiences. We conclude that diagrammatic iconicity is the primary motivating factor for the grammatical asymmetries in Paamese possessive constructions, and that economy can account for some, but not all cases.
Period2018 Jul 14
Event titleIACS 3-2018 (International Association for Cognitive Semiotics)
Event typeConference
Conference number3
LocationToronto , Canada, OntarioShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational