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Early produced signs are iconic: Evidence from Turkish Sign Language

Sumer, B., Grabitz, C., & Küntay, A. (2017). Early produced signs are iconic: Evidence from Turkish Sign Language. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 3273-3278). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
Motivated form-meaning mappings are pervasive in sign languages, and iconicity has recently been shown to facilitate sign learning from early on. This study investigated the role of iconicity for language acquisition in Turkish Sign Language (TID). Participants were 43 signing children (aged 10 to 45 months) of deaf parents. Sign production ability was recorded using the adapted version of MacArthur Bates Communicative Developmental Inventory (CDI) consisting of 500 items for TID. Iconicity and familiarity ratings for a subset of 104 signs were available. Our results revealed that the iconicity of a sign was positively correlated with the percentage of children producing a sign and that iconicity significantly predicted the percentage of children producing a sign, independent of familiarity or phonological complexity. Our results are consistent with previous findings on sign language acquisition and provide further support for the facilitating effect of iconic form-meaning mappings in sign learning.
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