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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.


Accuracy of naive listeners at selecting the correct meaning in the playback experiments. The dark blue bars represent playback for stimuli with varied iconicity (10 choices for each meaning; chance=10%, indicated by the dark blue dashed line). The medium and light blue bars show performance from a follow-up experiment with more and less iconic instances of the vocalizations, respectively (18 choices for each meaning: chance=5.6% indicated by the medium blue dashed line). Accuracy was higher for the more iconic versus less iconic vocalizations for all 18 of the tested meanings.
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RSOS150152F4: Accuracy of naive listeners at selecting the correct meaning in the playback experiments. The dark blue bars represent playback for stimuli with varied iconicity (10 choices for each meaning; chance=10%, indicated by the dark blue dashed line). The medium and light blue bars show performance from a follow-up experiment with more and less iconic instances of the vocalizations, respectively (18 choices for each meaning: chance=5.6% indicated by the medium blue dashed line). Accuracy was higher for the more iconic versus less iconic vocalizations for all 18 of the tested meanings.

Mentions: Compared to a chance rate of 10%, overall accuracy at guessing the intended meaning was 35.6% in the first batch and 37.3% in the second (with no reliable difference between batches, z=−0.02, n.s.). Accuracy across meanings ranged from 10.4% (‘near’) to 73.6% (‘attractive’), and 15 of 18 words exceeded 20% (figure 4). These accuracies were strongly correlated with accuracies in the charades game for the same meanings (r=0.57, p=0.01). Figure 5a,b shows confusion matrices associated with the 18 different meanings. Accuracy was higher for vocalizations made in rounds 5 (38.8%) and 10 (39.1%) compared to round 1 (32.0%; z=3.28, p=0.001, b=0.03, 95% CI=[0.013,0.052]; figure 6a).Figure 4.


Iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols.

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

Accuracy of naive listeners at selecting the correct meaning in the playback experiments. The dark blue bars represent playback for stimuli with varied iconicity (10 choices for each meaning; chance=10%, indicated by the dark blue dashed line). The medium and light blue bars show performance from a follow-up experiment with more and less iconic instances of the vocalizations, respectively (18 choices for each meaning: chance=5.6% indicated by the medium blue dashed line). Accuracy was higher for the more iconic versus less iconic vocalizations for all 18 of the tested meanings.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

RSOS150152F4: Accuracy of naive listeners at selecting the correct meaning in the playback experiments. The dark blue bars represent playback for stimuli with varied iconicity (10 choices for each meaning; chance=10%, indicated by the dark blue dashed line). The medium and light blue bars show performance from a follow-up experiment with more and less iconic instances of the vocalizations, respectively (18 choices for each meaning: chance=5.6% indicated by the medium blue dashed line). Accuracy was higher for the more iconic versus less iconic vocalizations for all 18 of the tested meanings.
Mentions: Compared to a chance rate of 10%, overall accuracy at guessing the intended meaning was 35.6% in the first batch and 37.3% in the second (with no reliable difference between batches, z=−0.02, n.s.). Accuracy across meanings ranged from 10.4% (‘near’) to 73.6% (‘attractive’), and 15 of 18 words exceeded 20% (figure 4). These accuracies were strongly correlated with accuracies in the charades game for the same meanings (r=0.57, p=0.01). Figure 5a,b shows confusion matrices associated with the 18 different meanings. Accuracy was higher for vocalizations made in rounds 5 (38.8%) and 10 (39.1%) compared to round 1 (32.0%; z=3.28, p=0.001, b=0.03, 95% CI=[0.013,0.052]; figure 6a).Figure 4.

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.