Hidden Iconicity : A Peircean Perspective on the Chinese Picto-Phonetic Sign
According to Peirce, iconic interpretation is an associative inference on the basis of similarity. In that sense, nearly all Chinese characters are icons. The more obvious support for this claim comes from the pictorial nature of Chinese characters, which are either "pictographic" or "indicative". A better adjective for both is "ideographic" because they share the same interpretive movement from "graphs" to "ideas" that are similar. There is another direction in which a graph can be turned into an icon. Apart from the semantic connection to the referent, a graph is also related through convention to a particular sequence of sounds which constitute its pronunciation. This has resulted in characters that are "picto-phonetic" in nature.
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DING, E. (2005).Hidden Iconicity: A Peircean Perspective on the Chinese Picto-Phonetic Sign. Semiotica, 154, 173-285.