Iconicity and Sound Symbolism
Readings: Perniss, Thompson, & Vigliocco (2010); Optional, but recommended: Lupyan & Casasanto (2014)
Perniss et al. (2010)
- Why has iconicity/non-arbitrariness been ignored as much as it has by language researchers?
- Be familiar with the various examples of non-arbitrariness in signed languages, spoken languages.
- Make sure you understand that there is a difference between language showing non-arbitrariness and people being sensitive to such non-arbitrariness.
- What evidence is discussed by Perniss et al. in support of the proposition that people are sensitive to the non-arbitrariness in language?
- Reading the introduction of Lupyan & Casasanto may help to answer some of the questions above.
Take home points
- Language is traditionally thought to be arbitrary, but closer examination reveals many examples of nonarbitrariness, e.g., types of iconicity: Onomatopoeia, expressives/mimetics/sound symbolism
- We see this in all forms of language: signed, spoken, and written
- Iconic mappings may be easier to learn, but perhaps are less generalizable.
- What are the mechanisms? Where does iconicity/nonarbitrariness come from?
Both innate and learned crossmodal mappings
Analog world “bleeding through” into discrete, categorical language