Browsing by Subject "ICONICITY"

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  • Ćwiek, Aleksandra; Fuchs, Susanne; Draxler, Christoph; Asu, Eva Liina; Dediu, Dan; Hiovain, Katri; Kawahara, Shigeto; Koutalidis, Sofia; Krifka, Manfred; Lippus, Pärtel; Lupyan, Gary; Oh, Grace E.; Paul, Jing; Petrone, Caterina; Ridouane, Rachid; Reiter, Sabine; Schümchen, Nathalie; Szalontai, Ádám; Ünal-Logacev, Özlem; Zeller, Jochen; Winter, Bodo; Perlman, Marcus (2021)
    Linguistic communication requires speakers to mutually agree on the meanings of words, but how does such a system first get off the ground? One solution is to rely on iconic gestures: visual signs whose form directly resembles or otherwise cues their meaning without any previously established correspondence. However, it is debated whether vocalizations could have played a similar role. We report the first extensive cross-cultural study investigating whether people from diverse linguistic backgrounds can understand novel vocalizations for a range of meanings. In two comprehension experiments, we tested whether vocalizations produced by English speakers could be understood by listeners from 28 languages from 12 language families. Listeners from each language were more accurate than chance at guessing the intended referent of the vocalizations for each of the meanings tested. Our findings challenge the often-cited idea that vocalizations have limited potential for iconic representation, demonstrating that in the absence of words people can use vocalizations to communicate a variety of meanings.
  • Vainio, Lari; Vainio, Martti (2021)
    Recent evidence has shown linkages between actions and segmental elements of speech. For instance, close-front vowels are sound symbolically associated with the precision grip, and front vowels are associated with forward-directed limb movements. The current review article presents a variety of such sound-action effects and proposes that they compose a category of sound symbolism that is based on grounding a conceptual knowledge of a referent in articulatory and manual action representations. In addition, the article proposes that even some widely known sound symbolism phenomena such as the sound-magnitude symbolism can be partially based on similar sensorimotor grounding. It is also discussed that meaning of suprasegmental speech elements in many instances is similarly grounded in body actions. Sound symbolism, prosody, and body gestures might originate from the same embodied mechanisms that enable a vivid and iconic expression of a meaning of a referent to the recipient.