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In functional-cognitive linguistics, iconicity is the conceived similarity or analogy between a form of language and its meaning.

Iconic principles:

  • Quantity principle: formal complexity corresponds to conceptual complexity
  • Proximity principle: conceptual distance tends to match with linguistic distance
  • Sequential order principle: the sequential order of events described is mirrored in the speech chain

Iconic coding principles are natural tendencies in language and are also part of our cognitive and biological make-up.

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts



Additional material



  • Simcock, G., & DeLoache, J. (2006). Get the Picture? The Effects of Iconicity on Toddlers' Reenactment from Picture Books. Developmental Psychology, Vol.42, No. 6, 1352-1357. Full text

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