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In signed and spoken language & Jake Frandsen. Words are arbitrary symbols Saussure,Cours de Linguistique Générale Paris (1916) “One of the idees reques.

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Presentation on theme: "In signed and spoken language & Jake Frandsen. Words are arbitrary symbols Saussure,Cours de Linguistique Générale Paris (1916) “One of the idees reques."— Presentation transcript:

1 In signed and spoken language & Jake Frandsen

2 Words are arbitrary symbols Saussure,Cours de Linguistique Générale 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 A

3 ASL is considered a true, proper language. ASL and other signed languages are highly iconic. Arbitrariness has almost no place in ASL. W BUT

4 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 W

5 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) I

6 Are spoken languages iconic? Was Saussure wrong?

7 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. P

8 /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)

9 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. P

10 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

11 Onomatopoeia is perhaps the only aspect of spoken language where sound symbolism and phonosemantics are generally accepted to be present. O

12 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?

13 M 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.

14 Cat House Box Bicycle Table Ball Tree Snow Car Fish

15 WordMeaningWordMeaning [go:n] Speeding car [pum] Gun being fired [nja ʔ a ʔ a] Car slamming on brakes [gnum] Person diving into water [pa:ŋ] Large metal pan hitting the floor [krak] Person walking through dry leaves [klin] Spoon hitting the floor [plaf] Door being slammed [bo:m] Bomb detonating [at ʃ is] Sneeze

16 A

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19 ASLSpanish O Out of 660

20 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. C


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