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Iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols.

Perlman M, Dale R, Lupyan G - R Soc Open Sci (2015)

Bottom Line: Yet, we know little about how people create vocal communication systems, and many have suggested that vocalizations do not afford iconicity beyond trivial instances of onomatopoeia.People's ability to guess the meanings of these novel vocalizations was predicted by how close the vocalization was to an iconic 'meaning template' we derived from the production data.These results strongly suggest that the meaningfulness of these vocalizations derived from iconicity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology , University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI, USA.

ABSTRACT
Studies of gestural communication systems find that they originate from spontaneously created iconic gestures. Yet, we know little about how people create vocal communication systems, and many have suggested that vocalizations do not afford iconicity beyond trivial instances of onomatopoeia. It is unknown whether people can generate vocal communication systems through a process of iconic creation similar to gestural systems. Here, we examine the creation and development of a rudimentary vocal symbol system in a laboratory setting. Pairs of participants generated novel vocalizations for 18 different meanings in an iterative 'vocal' charades communication game. The communicators quickly converged on stable vocalizations, and naive listeners could correctly infer their meanings in subsequent playback experiments. People's ability to guess the meanings of these novel vocalizations was predicted by how close the vocalization was to an iconic 'meaning template' we derived from the production data. These results strongly suggest that the meaningfulness of these vocalizations derived from iconicity. Our findings illuminate a mechanism by which iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols, analogous to the function of iconicity in gestural communication systems.

No MeSH data available.


The plots show the acoustic characteristics of each of the 18 meanings. The five variables are represented on the x-axis: D, duration; H, harmonics to noise ratio; I, intensity; P, pitch; C, pitch change. All values are normalized (z-scored) for each of the five measures. The red line shows the median and the blue box spans the first and third quartiles. The up and down arrows indicate variables that differed reliably between antonymic meanings. For example, vocalizations for bad differed from those for good by having a lower harmonics to noise ratio and pitch. The variables marked with arrows were the basis for the iconic template of each meaning.
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RSOS150152F2: The plots show the acoustic characteristics of each of the 18 meanings. The five variables are represented on the x-axis: D, duration; H, harmonics to noise ratio; I, intensity; P, pitch; C, pitch change. All values are normalized (z-scored) for each of the five measures. The red line shows the median and the blue box spans the first and third quartiles. The up and down arrows indicate variables that differed reliably between antonymic meanings. For example, vocalizations for bad differed from those for good by having a lower harmonics to noise ratio and pitch. The variables marked with arrows were the basis for the iconic template of each meaning.

Mentions: Were the vocalizations that participants produced iconic? To answer this question, we first looked for similarity in the acoustic properties of the vocalizations produced by different participants with respect to each meaning. We reasoned that if participants produced vocalizations according to a sense of iconicity—potentially highly abstract—between their voice and the meanings they expressed, then their vocalizations would take on a similar form for each meaning. Figure 2 shows profiles of the median acoustic characteristics (duration, harmonicity, intensity, pitch and pitch change) of the 18 meanings. The arrows in the figure show the results of logistic-regression models predicting each word versus its opposite with the five acoustic variables as predictors. Notably, each meaning varied reliably from its opposite in at least one acoustic property (with α=0.001). We further tested whether the acoustic profiles of each meaning reliably distinguished between all other meanings. We constructed 153 logistic-regression models for all of the meaning pairs (e.g. up versus rough, short versus few and so on), of which 132 could be fit with a convergent solution. At α=0.05, all but two pairs (98.5%) could be reliably distinguished by at least one significant variable (table 1). In total, we tested five variables for each of the 132 comparisons for a total of 660 tests, and 376 (57.0%) of these differed reliably between meanings (compared to the prediction of 0.05×660=33). These results indicate that each meaning tended to occupy a unique place in the acoustic space.Figure 2.


Iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols.

Perlman M, Dale R, Lupyan G - R Soc Open Sci (2015)

The plots show the acoustic characteristics of each of the 18 meanings. The five variables are represented on the x-axis: D, duration; H, harmonics to noise ratio; I, intensity; P, pitch; C, pitch change. All values are normalized (z-scored) for each of the five measures. The red line shows the median and the blue box spans the first and third quartiles. The up and down arrows indicate variables that differed reliably between antonymic meanings. For example, vocalizations for bad differed from those for good by having a lower harmonics to noise ratio and pitch. The variables marked with arrows were the basis for the iconic template of each meaning.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4555852&req=5

RSOS150152F2: The plots show the acoustic characteristics of each of the 18 meanings. The five variables are represented on the x-axis: D, duration; H, harmonics to noise ratio; I, intensity; P, pitch; C, pitch change. All values are normalized (z-scored) for each of the five measures. The red line shows the median and the blue box spans the first and third quartiles. The up and down arrows indicate variables that differed reliably between antonymic meanings. For example, vocalizations for bad differed from those for good by having a lower harmonics to noise ratio and pitch. The variables marked with arrows were the basis for the iconic template of each meaning.
Mentions: Were the vocalizations that participants produced iconic? To answer this question, we first looked for similarity in the acoustic properties of the vocalizations produced by different participants with respect to each meaning. We reasoned that if participants produced vocalizations according to a sense of iconicity—potentially highly abstract—between their voice and the meanings they expressed, then their vocalizations would take on a similar form for each meaning. Figure 2 shows profiles of the median acoustic characteristics (duration, harmonicity, intensity, pitch and pitch change) of the 18 meanings. The arrows in the figure show the results of logistic-regression models predicting each word versus its opposite with the five acoustic variables as predictors. Notably, each meaning varied reliably from its opposite in at least one acoustic property (with α=0.001). We further tested whether the acoustic profiles of each meaning reliably distinguished between all other meanings. We constructed 153 logistic-regression models for all of the meaning pairs (e.g. up versus rough, short versus few and so on), of which 132 could be fit with a convergent solution. At α=0.05, all but two pairs (98.5%) could be reliably distinguished by at least one significant variable (table 1). In total, we tested five variables for each of the 132 comparisons for a total of 660 tests, and 376 (57.0%) of these differed reliably between meanings (compared to the prediction of 0.05×660=33). These results indicate that each meaning tended to occupy a unique place in the acoustic space.Figure 2.

Bottom Line: Yet, we know little about how people create vocal communication systems, and many have suggested that vocalizations do not afford iconicity beyond trivial instances of onomatopoeia.People's ability to guess the meanings of these novel vocalizations was predicted by how close the vocalization was to an iconic 'meaning template' we derived from the production data.These results strongly suggest that the meaningfulness of these vocalizations derived from iconicity.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology , University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, WI, USA.

ABSTRACT
Studies of gestural communication systems find that they originate from spontaneously created iconic gestures. Yet, we know little about how people create vocal communication systems, and many have suggested that vocalizations do not afford iconicity beyond trivial instances of onomatopoeia. It is unknown whether people can generate vocal communication systems through a process of iconic creation similar to gestural systems. Here, we examine the creation and development of a rudimentary vocal symbol system in a laboratory setting. Pairs of participants generated novel vocalizations for 18 different meanings in an iterative 'vocal' charades communication game. The communicators quickly converged on stable vocalizations, and naive listeners could correctly infer their meanings in subsequent playback experiments. People's ability to guess the meanings of these novel vocalizations was predicted by how close the vocalization was to an iconic 'meaning template' we derived from the production data. These results strongly suggest that the meaningfulness of these vocalizations derived from iconicity. Our findings illuminate a mechanism by which iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols, analogous to the function of iconicity in gestural communication systems.

No MeSH data available.