Differing signal-meaning dimensionalities facilitates the emergence of structure

Little, H., Ery─▒lmaz, K., & De Boer, B. (2016). Differing signal-meaning dimensionalities facilitates the emergence of structure. In S. G. Roberts, C. Cuskley, L. McCrohon, L. Barcel├│-Coblijn, O. Feher, & T. Verhoef (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 11th International Conference (EVOLANG11). Retrieved from http://evolang.org/neworleans/papers/25.html.
Structure of language is not only caused by cognitive processes, but also by physical aspects of the signalling modality. We test the assumptions surrounding the role which the physical aspects of the signal space will have on the emergence of structure in speech. Here, we use a signal creation task to test whether a signal space and a meaning space having similar dimensionalities will generate an iconic system with signal-meaning mapping and whether, when the topologies differ, the emergence of non-iconic structure is facilitated. In our experiments, signals are created using infrared sensors which use hand position to create audio signals. We find that people take advantage of signal-meaning mappings where possible. Further, we use trajectory probabilities and measures of variance to show that when there is a dimensionality mismatch, more structural strategies are used.
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