– Systematicity, Iconicity, and the structure of the lexicon –
In recent years, the proposal that the relationship between words and their meanings is entirely arbitrary has been heavily criticised. Recent findings have suggested that parts of the lexicon are non-arbitrary in two ways: iconicity refers to direct relationships between words and meanings, whereas systematicity refers to relationships between sets of words and sets of meanings. Both of these types of non-arbitrariness are suggested to have important implications for language learning.
In this talk I will present the results of a series of experiments investigating these claims, demonstrating:
- That systematicity and iconicity both enhance learning in certain contexts
- That each has inherent limitations
- That systematicity and iconicity are often conflated in the literature
- That broader claims about the centrality of non-arbitrariness for language learning should be tempered until we have a better understanding of the processes involved
I conclude by suggesting a number of productive avenues for future research, including the need to account for the different distribution of non-arbitrariness both within and between the world’s languages.
19 JAN 2017 | MPI 163 | 15.45 – 17.00