Anita Slonimska

Publications

Displaying 1 - 11 of 11
  • Nölle, J., Raviv, L., Graham, K. E., Hartmann, S., Jadoul, Y., Josserand, M., Matzinger, T., Mudd, K., Pleyer, M., Slonimska, A., Wacewicz, S., & Watson, S. (Eds.). (in press). Proceedings of the International Conference on the Evolution of Language 2024 (Evolang XV). The Evolution of Language Conferences.
  • Slonimska, A., & Özyürek, A. (in press). Methods to study evolution of iconicity in sign languages. In L. Raviv, & C. Boeckx (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Approaches to Language Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Slonimska, A. (2024). The role of iconicity and simultaneity in efficient communication in the visual modality: Evidence from LIS (Italian Sign Language) [Dissertation Abstract]. Sign Language & Linguistics, 27(1), 116-124. doi:10.1075/sll.00084.slo.
  • Slonimska, A. (2022). The role of iconicity and simultaneity in efficient communication in the visual modality: Evidence from LIS (Italian Sign Language). PhD Thesis, Radboud University, Nijmegen.
  • Slonimska, A., Özyürek, A., & Capirci, O. (2022). Simultaneity as an emergent property of efficient communication in language: A comparison of silent gesture and sign language. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 46(5): 13133. doi:10.1111/cogs.13133.

    Abstract

    Sign languages use multiple articulators and iconicity in the visual modality which allow linguistic units to be organized not only linearly but also simultaneously. Recent research has shown that users of an established sign language such as LIS (Italian Sign Language) use simultaneous and iconic constructions as a modality-specific resource to achieve communicative efficiency when they are required to encode informationally rich events. However, it remains to be explored whether the use of such simultaneous and iconic constructions recruited for communicative efficiency can be employed even without a linguistic system (i.e., in silent gesture) or whether they are specific to linguistic patterning (i.e., in LIS). In the present study, we conducted the same experiment as in Slonimska et al. with 23 Italian speakers using silent gesture and compared the results of the two studies. The findings showed that while simultaneity was afforded by the visual modality to some extent, its use in silent gesture was nevertheless less frequent and qualitatively different than when used within a linguistic system. Thus, the use of simultaneous and iconic constructions for communicative efficiency constitutes an emergent property of sign languages. The present study highlights the importance of studying modality-specific resources and their use for linguistic expression in order to promote a more thorough understanding of the language faculty and its modality-specific adaptive capabilities.
  • Slonimska, A., Özyürek, A., & Capirci, O. (2022). Simultaneity as an emergent property of sign languages. In A. Ravignani, R. Asano, D. Valente, F. Ferretti, S. Hartmann, M. Hayashi, Y. Jadoul, M. Martins, Y. Oseki, E. D. Rodrigues, O. Vasileva, & S. Wacewicz (Eds.), The evolution of language: Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE) (pp. 678-680). Nijmegen: Joint Conference on Language Evolution (JCoLE).
  • Slonimska, A., Ozyurek, A., & Capirci, O. (2021). Using depiction for efficient communication in LIS (Italian Sign Language). Language and Cognition, 13(3), 367 -396. doi:10.1017/langcog.2021.7.

    Abstract

    Meanings communicated with depictions constitute an integral part of how speakers and signers actually use language (Clark, 2016). Recent studies have argued that, in sign languages, depicting strategy like constructed action (CA), in which a signer enacts the referent, is used for referential purposes in narratives. Here, we tested the referential function of CA in a more controlled experimental setting and outside narrative context. Given the iconic properties of CA we hypothesized that this strategy could be used for efficient information transmission. Thus, we asked if use of CA increased with the increase in the information required to be communicated. Twenty-three deaf signers of LIS described unconnected images, which varied in the amount of information represented, to another player in a director–matcher game. Results revealed that participants used CA to communicate core information about the images and also increased the use of CA as images became informatively denser. The findings show that iconic features of CA can be used for referential function in addition to its depictive function outside narrative context and to achieve communicative efficiency.
  • Slonimska, A., Ozyurek, A., & Capirci, O. (2020). The role of iconicity and simultaneity for efficient communication: The case of Italian Sign Language (LIS). Cognition, 200: 104246. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2020.104246.

    Abstract

    A fundamental assumption about language is that, regardless of language modality, it faces the linearization problem, i.e., an event that occurs simultaneously in the world has to be split in language to be organized on a temporal scale. However, the visual modality of signed languages allows its users not only to express meaning in a linear manner but also to use iconicity and multiple articulators together to encode information simultaneously. Accordingly, in cases when it is necessary to encode informatively rich events, signers can take advantage of simultaneous encoding in order to represent information about different referents and their actions simultaneously. This in turn would lead to more iconic and direct representation. Up to now, there has been no experimental study focusing on simultaneous encoding of information in signed languages and its possible advantage for efficient communication. In the present study, we assessed how many information units can be encoded simultaneously in Italian Sign Language (LIS) and whether the amount of simultaneously encoded information varies based on the amount of information that is required to be expressed. Twenty-three deaf adults participated in a director-matcher game in which they described 30 images of events that varied in amount of information they contained. Results revealed that as the information that had to be encoded increased, signers also increased use of multiple articulators to encode different information (i.e., kinematic simultaneity) and density of simultaneously encoded information in their production. Present findings show how the fundamental properties of signed languages, i.e., iconicity and simultaneity, are used for the purpose of efficient information encoding in Italian Sign Language (LIS).

    Additional information

    Supplementary data
  • Slonimska, A., & Roberts, S. G. (2017). A case for systematic sound symbolism in pragmatics: Universals in wh-words. Journal of Pragmatics, 116, 1-20. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2017.04.004.

    Abstract

    This study investigates whether there is a universal tendency for content
    interrogative words (wh-­words) within a language to sound similar in order to facilitate
    pragmatic inference in conversation. Gaps between turns in conversation are very
    short, meaning that listeners must begin planning their turn as soon as possible.
    While previous research has shown that paralinguistic features such as prosody and
    eye gaze provide cues to the pragmatic function of upcoming turns, we hypothesise
    that a systematic phonetic cue that marks interrogative words would also help early
    recognition of questions (allowing early preparation of answers), for instance wh-­
    words sounding similar within a language. We analyzed 226 languages from 66
    different language families by means of permutation tests. We found that initial
    segments of wh-­words were more similar within a language than between languages,
    also when controlling for language family, geographic area (stratified permutation)
    and analyzability (compound phrases excluded). Random samples tests revealed that
    initial segments of wh-­words were more similar than initial segments of randomly
    selected word sets and conceptually related word sets (e.g., body parts, actions,
    pronouns). Finally, we hypothesized that this cue would be more useful at the
    beginning of a turn, so the similarity of the initial segment of wh-­words should be
    greater in languages that place them at the beginning of a clause. We gathered
    typological data on 110 languages, and found the predicted trend, although statistical
    significance was not attained. While there may be several mechanisms that bring
    about this pattern (e.g., common derivation), we suggest that the ultimate explanation
    of the similarity of interrogative words is to facilitate early speech-­act recognition.
    Importantly, this hypothesis can be tested empirically, and the current results provide
    a sound basis for future experimental tests.
  • Slonimska, A., & Roberts, S. G. (2017). A case for systematic sound symbolism in pragmatics:The role of the first phoneme in question prediction in context. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2017) (pp. 1090-1095). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

    Abstract

    Turn-taking in conversation is a cognitively demanding process that proceeds rapidly due to interlocutors utilizing a range of cues
    to aid prediction. In the present study we set out to test recent claims that content question words (also called wh-words) sound similar within languages as an adaptation to help listeners predict
    that a question is about to be asked. We test whether upcoming questions can be predicted based on the first phoneme of a turn and the prior context. We analyze the Switchboard corpus of English
    by means of a decision tree to test whether /w/ and /h/ are good statistical cues of upcoming questions in conversation. Based on the results, we perform a controlled experiment to test whether
    people really use these cues to recognize questions. In both studies
    we show that both the initial phoneme and the sequential context help predict questions. This contributes converging evidence that elements of languages adapt to pragmatic pressures applied during
    conversation.
  • Slonimska, A., Ozyurek, A., & Campisi, E. (2015). Ostensive signals: markers of communicative relevance of gesture during demonstration to adults and children. In G. Ferré, & M. Tutton (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th GESPIN - Gesture & Speech in Interaction Conference (pp. 217-222). Nantes: Universite of Nantes.

    Abstract

    Speakers adapt their speech and gestures in various ways for their audience. We investigated further whether they use
    ostensive signals (eye gaze, ostensive speech (e.g. like this, this) or a combination of both) in relation to their gestures
    when talking to different addressees, i.e., to another adult or a child in a multimodal demonstration task. While adults used
    more eye gaze towards their gestures with other adults than with children, they were more likely to use combined
    ostensive signals for children than for adults. Thus speakers mark the communicative relevance of their gestures with different types of ostensive signals and by taking different types of addressees into account.

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