Classification of iconic signs in the Russian sign language

2013. № 2 (26), 272-288

Maria K. Timofeeva, Novosibirsk State University


This paper addresses Russian Sign Language and focuses on iconicity of its signs. The aim is to analyze semantics of iconic signs and to elicit such types of iconicity that allow us to draw correlations between the meaning of a sign and its iconic feature. The existing classifications of iconic signs (for other sign languages) do not consider iconicity within this perspective. The work was carried out in connection with the project of machine translation for Russian Sign Language. Revealing correlations between semantics and iconicity help us to formulate hypotheses about unknown meanings of new words and gives information about possibilities of creating neologisms. The sample of considered iconic signs includes 450 elements; among these, the main object of investigation was the category of physical things and processes, because for these signs iconicity is most transparent.