Using depiction for efficient communication in LIS (Italian Sign Language)

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.
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.
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