Competing Motivations

John Haiman

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Competing Motivations

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This article first addresses the drive for non-referential symmetry in Cambodian, and comparable decorative frills in other languages. The evidence within Cambodian favours the ‘whole cloth’ theory. A striking property of the symmetrical Khmer compounds is that they alliterate much more often than they rhyme. It has always been stated that the final motive for analogical extension or levelling is the drive to make one meaning correspond to one form – and hence, the drive is ultimately a cognitive one for transparency. The iconic motivation is an example of congruity, in this case between a linguistic and a conceptual structure. The discussion has dealt with both syntagmatic and paradigmatic cases of non-referential symmetry.

Keywords: non-referential symmetry; iconic motivation; linguistic; conceptual structure; congruity; Cambodian; symmetrical Khmer compounds

Article.  7339 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology

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