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  • dingemanse_etal_15_tics

    Rights statement: 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

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Arbitrariness, iconicity, and systematicity in language

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number10
Volume19
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)603-615
Publication statusPublished
Early online date24/09/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

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.

Bibliographic note

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