The iconicity ring model for sound symbolism

Kimi Akita, Mutsumi Imai

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


The 'iconicity ring model' proposed in this chapter depicts a lexicon's evolutionary path from genuine iconicity (termed 'primary iconicity') to arbitrariness to another type of iconicity (termed 'emergent iconicity') that emerges from linguistic systematicity. The model captures the universality and language-specificity of sound symbolism and its role in lexical acquisition. Iconicity loss in ideophones illustrates the shift from primary iconicity to arbitrariness, whereas ideophonization exemplifies the shift from arbitrariness to emergent iconicity via systematicity. The two types of iconicity are mixed together in individual lexicons, providing a clue to the symbol grounding problem.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIconicity in Cognition and across Semiotic Systems
EditorsSara Lenninger, Olga Fischer, Christina Ljungberg, Elzbieta Tabakowska
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257574
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameIconicity in Language and Literature
ISSN (Print)1873-5037

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication


Dive into the research topics of 'The iconicity ring model for sound symbolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this