LINGUIST List 13.3372

Fri Dec 20 2002

Qs: Lang-Dependent Iconicity, 'Congratulations'

Editor for this issue: Renee Galvis <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query.


  1. Ariel Cohen, Language-dependent iconicity?
  2. Marcus Callies, Congratulations

Message 1: Language-dependent iconicity?

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 2002 09:55:00 +0000
From: Ariel Cohen <>
Subject: Language-dependent iconicity?

I was reading ''Mother of Demons'', a surprisingly good science
fiction book by Eric Flint. This book describes (among other
things)`eumales', which are sort of infertile male aliens. Then I came
to the following paragraph:

 ''Woddulakotat's strange name was normal for a eumale. The 
 oddly truncated ending of the name signified his lack of 
 sexual organs, his incompletion. (Normally, all Kiktu names - 
 almost all words in their language, in fact ended in 

This sounds like iconicity: the eumale's name, by not ending in a
vowel, implies his incompletion. Interestingly, the name is only
iconic within the context of the fictional Kiktu language; in a
different language, where words ending in a consonant are common,
there would be no implication of incompleteness. It is, therefore, a
case of something we can call language dependent iconicity.

Of course, this is a fictional example. But I wonder whether this is
just an ingenious invention of a science fiction writer, or whether
similar phenomena are attested in existing human languages. I would be
obliged to anyone who is aware of such examples and can let me know of
them. I will of course summarize the responses to the list.

Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Congratulations

Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2002 07:59:54 +0000
From: Marcus Callies <>
Subject: Congratulations

Dear colleagues,

I was wondering if anyone could help me out with references to
research in a rather specific subfield of speech acts, namely
congratulations. I've looked for articles etc. in the available
bibliographic databases but haven't found anything yet.

I'll be happy for any response and will post a summary.
Thanks in advance.

Marcus Callies

Philipps-Universitaat Marburg, FB 10
Institut fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Englische Sprachwissenschaft
Wilhelm-Rupke-Str. 6 D, 35032 Marburg

Telefon: (06421) 28-25560
Fax: (06421) 28-25799
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue