Poster or Presentation Title

The Ease of Iconicity

Presenter Information

Azaria BrownFollow

Access Type

Open Access

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Start Date

April 2017

End Date

April 2017

Abstract

To the untrained eye, sign language looks like an unconnected group of gestures, because it is a language that is separate from the spoken language that dominates its country of origin. Even with this in mind, there are several signs that may be universally understood by people who do not know that particular sign language. For example, though they are not completely the same, the signer touching their fingers to their mouth is similar to the act of eating food, and onlookers may determine that this sign means ‘eat’. Signed words can be related to their meanings through hand shape, movement, and location of the sign. These are called ‘iconic’ signs. A word that has no identifiable relation to its meaning is called ‘arbitrary’ and it must be learned explicitly. Whether signers realize it or not, iconic signs are more important than arbitrary signs in the early stages of learning sign language. Iconicity makes some signs easier to learn because of the foundation that they create for acquisition, their simplistic meanings, and their ease of recall.

Faculty Mentor

Leslie Layne

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Apr 5th, 10:30 AM Apr 5th, 10:45 AM

The Ease of Iconicity

To the untrained eye, sign language looks like an unconnected group of gestures, because it is a language that is separate from the spoken language that dominates its country of origin. Even with this in mind, there are several signs that may be universally understood by people who do not know that particular sign language. For example, though they are not completely the same, the signer touching their fingers to their mouth is similar to the act of eating food, and onlookers may determine that this sign means ‘eat’. Signed words can be related to their meanings through hand shape, movement, and location of the sign. These are called ‘iconic’ signs. A word that has no identifiable relation to its meaning is called ‘arbitrary’ and it must be learned explicitly. Whether signers realize it or not, iconic signs are more important than arbitrary signs in the early stages of learning sign language. Iconicity makes some signs easier to learn because of the foundation that they create for acquisition, their simplistic meanings, and their ease of recall.