Symbol Formation

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  • This entry is about an approach to symbol formation as it appeared in a book titled Symbol Formation, written by Heinz Werner and Bernard Kaplan, published in 1963. In this book Werner and Kaplan articulated a view of language as a developmental phenomenon. In their view, developmental analysis applied to adults as well as to children. They further focused on the representational function of language, which led them to make a sharp distinction between linguistic signs and linguistic symbols. In their framework the sign is much like a signal—an impulse to action—a symbol is distinguished from a sign by its having a representational function rather than an impulse to act; the symbol represents or somehow depicts its referent. The book is not so much about ...

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