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ERIC Number: ED533287
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 144
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1249-6764-6
Empirical Perspective on Vocal Iconicity as a Starting Point of Language
Perlman, Marcus
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Santa Cruz
This dissertation examines the potential of vocal iconicity to be a "starting point" in spoken languages. Previous work has shown that iconic manual gestures play such a role in the generation and ongoing development of signed languages, serving to motivate the generation and modification of linguistic forms. Yet vocal iconicity is largely assumed to be only a trivial element of spoken communication. The present set of experiments aimed to evaluate this assumption by examining (1) The extent to which people share consistent intuitions of vocal iconicity for different kinds of meanings, and (2) Whether people spontaneously produce iconic modulations in their speech as they talk about these different meanings. The first experiment focused on question 1, using a vocal charades task in which participants read words presented on flashcards (30 total pairs of antonymic words) and vocalized to a partner in an attempt to get her to guess the word. The results indicated that people shared consistent intuitions for a majority of the word pairs, variously relating to acoustic properties of pitch, pitch change, intensity, duration, repetition, and harmonics to noise ratio. Experiments 2 and 3 focused on question 2, using a story reading task in which people read short stories about fast vs. slow speed, long vs. short length, large vs. small size, and high vs. low vertical position, including metaphorical extensions of these meanings. Evidence for iconic modulation of both articulation rate and pitch was found in each of the four semantic domains, including some of the metaphorical extensions. Combined, the findings from these experiments suggest that iconicity plays a more widespread and active role in spoken language than traditionally acknowledged, and thus demonstrate the potential for vocal iconicity to serve as a starting point in spoken languages. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A