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Empirical Methods in Language Studies

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Edited By Krzysztof Kosecki and Janusz Badio

«Empirical Methods in Language Studies» presents 22 papers employing a broad range of empirical methods in the analysis of various aspects of language and communication. The individual texts offer contributions to the description of conceptual strategies, syntax, semantics, non-verbal communication, language learning, discourse, and literature.
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Iconic effects in loanword adaptation

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Abstract: The way a loanword accommodates to the recipient language is often guided by a tendency to maintain harmony between its form and its meaning. The tendency can be seen as an example of iconicity in natural languages. Drawing on examples from an ongoing research project, this paper presents a typology of iconic effects that appear in the process of loanword adaptation. A variety of methods used in the project will be shown, ranging from corpus queries to psycholinguistic experiments.

Keywords: iconicity, lexical borrowings, loanword adaptation, synonymy, word perception.

1. Introduction

Iconicity in natural languages can be defined as a similarity relation between linguistic signs and their referents. Among signs which are iconic in this sense there are onomatopoeic words, certain prosodic phenomena and gestures, whether in sign languages or in normal, auditory speech. More abstract cases of sign – referent similarity involve resemblance of structure and are known under the term diagrammaticality. For example, in compound words the order of elements is indicative of the order of their referents (e.g., a Polish-English dictionary can be expected to give Polish words first), the order of verbs in a story corresponds to the order of events (cf. Veni, vidi, vici), and the structure of one’s CV reflects, albeit in the reverse order, the sequence of events in one’s life.

The scope of iconic effects becomes even broader when non-arbitrariness of signs is taken as the defining criterion. For example, the word wing...

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