On metaphors in images

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Proceeding from the assumption that metaphors as well as pictures are iconic signs, the present contribution studies what happens when metaphors occur in figurative pictures. The author distinguishes between primary iconicity, the recognition of which is a condition for the categorization of an object as a sign, and secondary iconicity, which is perceived only after an object has been categorized as a sign. Figurative pictures (as opposed to droodles) are characterized by primary iconicity and metaphors by secondary iconicity. In addition to iconicity the indexicality of metaphors is discussed, which results in the distinction between modularity and contiguity as two possible relations between expression and content in a pictorial metaphor. It is shown that the process of secondary iconization in the understanding of a pictorial metaphor is triggered by its indexicality. In figurative pictures the beholder normally relates all details on the level of expression to specific details of content. However, because of the open character of secondary iconization, this does not necessarily happen in metaphors - not even in metaphors that occur in pictures.
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)25-37
JournalZeitschrift für Semiotik
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature

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