exceptions of arbitrariness
Uploaded by manindarkness on Jan 25, 2007
“To invent a language arbitrarily without any reason for the choices made, is for the human soul, who needs for everything at least a partial reason, as painful as it is for the body to be tickled to death.” Herder 1770/1985 p. 85 (transl.D.F.)
What is the term arbitrary refers to? Is there any direct relation between the linguistic form and the linguistic meaning of a word? Why do words differ from language to language? What is onomatopoeic sounds and what is iconic means? Do they arbitrary? Is there any non-arbitrary symbol or word in the world? Do items and concepts, etc. in a language have names that correspond to their very nature (physis), or are the names of concepts and ideas, etc. arbitrary, and dependent upon an agreed upon convention? Does language fall somewhere in between these two positions?
These questions are those with which people deals with from the beginning of the history. In this paper I will try to examine; the meaning of arbitrariness, the view of Ferdinand de Saussure- the father of the modern linguistics- about the issue, the kinds of arbitrariness, the non-arbitrary symbols and words- onomatopoeia and iconic-, and the other non-arbitrary symbols. And I will try to support that the arbitrary feature is not wholly acceptable for all languages and all words in the languages. May main focus language will be English, but as a reference I will use Turkish and German as well as some other languages.
2. The Arbitrary and Non-arbitrary
2.1. What is the Term Arbitrariness?
“Any symbol can be mapped onto any concept (or even onto one of the rules of the grammar). For instance, there is nothing about the Spanish or Portuguese word nada itself that forces Spanish speakers to use it to mean "nothing". That is the meaning all Spanish speakers have memorized for that sound pattern. But for Croatian or Serbian speakers nada means ‘hope’.”
It is the definition given by the world’s best known e-encyclopedia, Wikipedia, for arbitrariness. According to the authorities in a university in America, arbitrariness is that “Form and meaning is not incoherently connected. There is no logic or reason that a hand in the world should be represented by the sound: [hænd]. The words of a language represent a connection between the sounds, which give its form, and a meaning, which those sounds represent. Meaning + Form = SIGN”