Arbitrariness Iconicity - TTT

Arbitrariness Iconicity - TTT

& Arbitrariness Iconicity In signed and spoken language Jake Frandsen A Arbitrariness Words are arbitrary symbols Saussure,Cours de Linguistique Gnrale Paris (1916) One of the idees reques of all the disciplines that study language is the assumption that the relation between sound and meaning is arbitrary.

Linda R. Waugh, Against Arbitrariness, 1 W What about ASL? ASL is considered a true, proper language. BUT ASL and other signed languages are highly iconic. Arbitrariness has almost no place in ASL. W What about ASL? Some myths: sign language is universal. sign language is a manual representation of the

oral language of the surrounding community; i.e. ASL is a direct translation of English. sign languages are all pantomime I Is ASL a true language? A sign can be specified by describing its four simultaneously realized parameters: 1. hand configuration (designation, dez) 2. location (tabula, tab) 3. movement (signification, sig) 4. orientation ASL minimal pairs: APPLE:CANDY (differing only in hand configuration), APPLE:ONION (differing only in location) APPLE:CHEEKY (differing only in movement) SIT:NAME (differ ing only in the angle at which the

two hands contact one another ) Stokoe et al. A dictionary of American Sign Language on linguistic principles. (1965) e r u s s u a S s a W ? g n o r w Are spoken languages iconic?

P Phonesthemes A phonestheme is a phoneme that carries actual semantic meaning. Consider: flap, flare, flee, flick, flicker, fling, flip, flit, flitter, flow, flutter, fly, flurry. snore, snorkel, sniff, sniffle, snuffle, snuff, snivel, snout, snoot, snub, snot, sneeze, snoop. /gr-/ has been analyzed into three loosely connected phonesthemes: 1. relating to something unpleasant (grim, grisly, gritty, grotty, grotesque, greedy, gruesome, gruff), 2. relating to complaint (grumble, groan, grunt, grieve, grudge, gripe, grumpy, and

even disgruntled), 3. relating to undesirable rubbing (grind, grate, grovel, grub) P Phonesthemes seventy-five percent of standard English words are based on phonesthemes or have their meaning colored or altered in varying degree by secondary association with phonesthemes. sixteen percent are capable of being associated" with phonesthemes. nine percent are "clearly and completely arbitrary, their meaning unaffected by the sound. Fred Householder, On the Problem of Sound and Meaning, 83. The Phonosemantic Hypothesis In every language of the world, every word

containing a given phoneme has some specific element of meaning which is lacking in words not containing that phoneme. In this sense, we can say that every phoneme is meaning-bearing. The meaning that the phoneme bears is rooted in its articulation. Margaret Magnus, dissertation O Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is perhaps the only aspect of spoken language where sound symbolism and phonosemantics are generally accepted to be present. Spoken languages exhibit iconicity in their representations of sound (onomatopoeia) ASL exhibits iconicity in its representation of

concrete objects Is the level of such iconicity in signed and spoken languages comparable? Or is one more iconic than the other? M Methodology Obtained ten Spanish onomatopoeic words. Chose ten ASL iconic signs. Distributed answer sheet to 66 students. Each word or sign received a point for every student that guessed its meaning correctly; each lost a point for every student that did not guess its meaning correctly. Each word received a score between -66 and +66. The average score of each word was calculated for each language. The total number of points for all words was calculated to give each

language an overall score out of 660. Cat House Snow Bicycle Table Car Ball Box Tree Fish Word

[go:n] [njaa a] Meaning Speeding car Car slamming on brakes Word [pum] [gnum ] [pa:] Large metal pan hitting the floor [krak]

[klin] [bo:m] Spoon hitting the floor [plaf] [atis] Bomb detonating Meaning Gun being fired Person diving into water Person walking through dry leaves Door being slammed Sneeze

A Analysis ASL Spanish 100% 100% 90% 90% 80% 80% 70%

70% 60% 60% 50% Incorrect Correct 50% 40% 40% 30% 30%

20% 20% 10% 10% 0% ee tr h fis r ca e ow us o

sn h t ca e e cl abl y t c bi x bo ll ba 0% 1

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6 0 5

4 6 6 Average6 score: 4 4 6 6 0 6 0 6 4 5 Bicycle Cat Snow Table

House 59 Car Ball Box Tree Fish Average 0 score: 34 26 30 9

-6 - 34 6 50 28 46 O Overall Scores ASL Out of 660 Spanis h 59 -65

C Conclusion ASL is highly iconic; its signs are even more iconic than the onomatopoeia found in Spanish, a spoken language. Statements about arbitrariness in language must take into account the extremely high level of iconicity in signed languages.

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