Iconicity in Structured Form and Meaning Spaces

Onderzoeksoutput: Conference paper


Experiments on the emergence of phonological structure show that humans exploit structure in the meaning space to create structure in their sets of signals (Verhoef et al., 2011). This can be regarded as a confounding factor, as iconicity is generally considered to play a minor role in language. However, sound sym- bolism and onomatopoeia are well-documented. Moreover, in sign languages iconicity plays a more prominent role. But what exactly is iconicity? Formal models of language evolution tend to focus either on structure in the form space or structure in the meaning space, but not on the interaction between the two spaces. Zuidema and Westermann (2003) are an exception. They show that in robust signaling systems, meanings that are close together must be represented by forms that are close together. This defines a form of iconicity. The question then arises why and how complex signaling systems (language) loose iconicity.
Because iconic form-meaning mappings are robust and open, they may have played a role in the early evolution of human language. The discretization of a meaning space of higher dimensionality than the available form space may pro- vide a transition from a holistic to a combinatorial system. Because the discreti- zation is arbitrary, conventions are then needed. This model provides a theoreti- cal framework for understanding the transition from an iconic signaling system to an arbitrary, discretized and conventionalized one. Both the emergence of an iconic mapping and the transition to a discretized, conventional and possibly combinatorial system can be tested with experimental iterated learning.
Originele taal-2English
TitelThe Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 9th international conference (EVOLANG9)
RedacteurenT. Scott-phillips, M. Tamariz, E.a. Cartmill, J.r. Hurford
Plaats van productieHackensack, NJ
UitgeverijWorld Scientific Publishing
Aantal pagina's2
ISBN van geprinte versie981-4401-49-8
StatusPublished - 14 mrt 2012
EvenementUnknown - Kyoto, Japan
Duur: 13 mrt 201216 mrt 2012

Publicatie series

NaamThe Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 9th international conference (EVOLANG9)



Bibliografische nota

T. Scott-Phillips, M. Tamariz, E.A. Cartmill, J.R. Hurford


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