Arbitrariness, iconicity, and systematicity in language

Dingemanse, Mark and Blasi, Damian E. and Lupyan, Gary and Christiansen, Morten H. and Monaghan, Padraic (2015) Arbitrariness, iconicity, and systematicity in language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19 (10). pp. 603-615. ISSN 1364-6613

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The notion that the form of a word bears an arbitrary relation to its meaning accounts only partly for the attested relations between form and meaning in the languages of the world. Recent research suggests a more textured view of vocabulary structure, in which arbitrariness is complemented by iconicity (aspects of form resemble aspects of meaning) and systematicity (statistical regularities in forms predict function). Experimental evidence suggests these form-to-meaning correspondences serve different functions in language processing, development, and communication: systematicity facilitates category learning by means of phonological cues, iconicity facilitates word learning and communication by means of perceptuomotor analogies, and arbitrariness facilitates meaning individuation through distinctive forms. Processes of cultural evolution help to explain how these competing motivations shape vocabulary structure.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Trends in Cognitive Sciences. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19, 10, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2015.07.013
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? british sign-languagegrammatical category assignmentstakete-maluma phenomenonsound-symbolismsuffixing preferencewordsgesturespeechshapecorrespondencesneuropsychology and physiological psychologycognitive neuroscienceexperimental and cognitive psychology ??
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Deposited On:
15 Apr 2016 15:00
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 15:36