Iconic Intuitions about Linguistic Meanings

Authors

  • Silvia Carolina Scotto Instituto de Humanidades-UNC-CONICET

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.22370/rhv2024iss24pp73-103

Keywords:

sound-symbolism, iconicity, intuitions, perceptual seemings, first-level intuitions

Abstract

I identify the nature and the epistemic status of a sub-type of linguistic intuitions that I call iconic intuitions (IIs). The naive speakers are able to detect, through these intuitions, consistent iconic correspondences between linguistic forms and meanings. Firstly, I identify the main features of the linguistic phenomenon detected by IIs: sound symbolism. The correspondences in which it consists are iconic because they are made up of different types of perceived similarities or associations based on similarities between stimuli - one of which is linguistic. Then, I analyze the main alternative philosophical and psychological characterizations of intuitions, and their evidential role, focusing on linguistic intuitions. On these bases, I conclude that intuitions should be conceived as a heterogeneous construct. Secondly, I argue that the IIs are neither beliefs, dispositions to belief, judgments, or intellectual seemings with propositional contents, but rather perceptual seemings. They consist of the ability or sensitivity to detect iconic correspondences or associations. In other words, sound inputs directly “track” the meanings conveyed by them. They are characterized by their peculiar presentational phenomenology and evaluative component. Now, according to the type of content and cognitive processing involved, it would seem convenient to distinguish between the most purely perceptual ones, based on associative processes, and those that also involve accumulated experience, analytical processes, and conceptual manipulation. After reviewing the psycholinguistic experimental literature based on intuitions about sound symbolism, I argue that IIs are first-level intuitions, and as such a reliable source of direct and prima facie evidence about the iconic features in language. Finally, I argue that these IIs offer a privileged “window” to explore the relationships between language and perception (and affection/emotion). I conclude by arguing that this kind of intuition is a non-dispensable input for philosophical reflection and scientific research on language. So, although I vindicate the relevance of intuitions for understanding linguistic meaning, IIs are not of the same kind, nor do they require the same methods for studying them as those that have mainly interested philosophers.

References

Akita, K. & Dingemanse, M. (2019). Ideophones (Mimetics, Expressives). In M. Aronoff (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199384655.013.477

Anikin, A. & Johansson, A. (2019). Implicit associations between individual properties of color and sound. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 81, 764-777. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-018-01639-7

Aryani, A. (2018). Affective iconicity in language and poetry. A neurocognitive approach. Dissertation Freien Universität of Berlin.

Auracher, J., Albers, S., Zhai, U., Gareeva, G., & Stavnychuk, T. (2011). P is for happiness N is for sadness: Universals in sound iconicity to detect emotions in poetry. Discourse Processes, 48, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/01638531003674894

Bankieris, K. & Simner, J. (2015). What is the link between synaesthesia and sound symbolism? Cognition, 16, 186-195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2014.11.013

Bealer, G. (1999). A Theory of the A Priori. Philosophical Perspectives, 13, 29-55.

Bengson, J. (2015). The Intellectual Given. Mind, 124(495), 707-760. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzv029

Bergen, B. K. (2004). The psychological reality of phonesthemes. Language, 80, 290-311. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4489664

Blasi, D. E., Wichmann, S., Hammarström, H., Stadler, P. F., & Christiansen, M. H. (2016). Sound-meaning association biases evidenced across thousands of languages. PNAS, 113(39), 10818-10823. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1605782113

Brogaard, B. (2013). Phenomenal seemings and sensible dogmatism. In C. Tucker (Ed.), Seemings and justification: New essays on dogmatism and phenomenal conservatism (pp. 270-289). Oxford University Press.

Brogaard, B. (2014). Intuitions as intellectual seemings. Analytic Philosophy, 55(4), 382-393. https://doi.org/10.1111/phib.12051

Brogaard, B. (2018). In defense of hearing meanings. Synthese, 195(7), 2967-2983. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1178-x

Brownstein, M., Madva, A., & Gawronski, B. (2019). What do implicit measures measure? Wires Cognitive Science, 10(5), e1501. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1501

Cai, Z. G. & Zhao, N. (2019). The sound of gender: inferring the gender of names in a foreign language. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 3, 63-73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41809-019-00028-2

Cappelen, H. (2012). Philosophy without Intuitions. Oxford University Press.

Chudnoff, E. (2011). What Intuitions Are Like? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, LXXXII(3), 625-654. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1933-1592.2010.00463.x

Cohnitz, D. & Haukioja, J. (2015). Intuitions in Philosophical Semantics. Erkenntnis, 80(3), 617-641. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-014-9666-1

D’Anselmo, A., Prete, G., Zdybek, P., Tommasi, L., & Brancucci, A. (2019). Guessing Meaning from Words Sounds of Unfamiliar Languages: A Cross-Cultural Sound Symbolism Study. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 593. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00593

De Cruz, H. (2014). Where philosophical intuitions come from. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 93(2), 233-249. https://doi.org/10.1080/00048402.2014.967792

Dennett, D. C. (2003). Who´s on First? Heterophenomenology Explained. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 9(10), 19-30.

Deroy, O. & Spence, C. (2016). Crossmodal correspondences: Four challenges. Multisensory Research, 29(1-3), 28-48. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134808-00002488

Devitt, M. (2006). Ignorance of Language. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Devitt, M. & Porot, N. (2018). The Reference of Proper Names: Testing Usage and Intuitions. Cognitive Science, 42(5), 1552-1585. https://doi.org/10.1111/cogs.12609

Dingemanse, M. (2012). Advances in the cross-linguistic study of ideophones. Lang. Linguist. Compass, 6, 654-672. https://doi.org/10.1002/lnc3.361

Dingemanse, M., Blasi, D. E., Lupyan, G., Christiansen, M. H., & Monaghan, P. (2015). Arbitrariness, iconicity, and systematicity in language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(10), 603-615. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2015.07.013

Dingemanse, M. & Akita, K. (2016). An inverse relation between expressiveness and grammatical integration: On the morphosyntactic typology of ideophones, with a special reference to Japanese. Journal of Linguistics, 53(3), 501-532. https://doi.org/10.1017/S002222671600030X

Dingemanse, M., Schuerman, W., Reinisch, E., Tufvesson, S., & Mitterer, H. (2016). What sound symbolism can and cannot do: testing the iconicity of ideophones from five languages. Language, 92, e117-e133.

Dingemanse, M., Perlman, M., & Perniss, P. (2020). Construals of iconicity: experimental approaches to form-meaning resemblances in language. Language & Cognition, 12(1), 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2019.48

Dingemanse, M. & Thompson, B. (2020). Playful iconicity: structural markedness underlies the relation between funniness and iconicity. Language and Cognition, 12(1), 203-224. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2019.49

Drożdżowicz, A. (2020) Do we hear meanings? –between perception and cognition. Inquiry. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, 66(2), 196-228. https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2019.1612774

Evans, J. S. B. T. (2009). How many dual-process theories do we need? One, two, or many? In J. S. B. T. Evans & K. Frankish (Eds.), In two minds: Dual processes and beyond (pp. 33-54). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199230167.003.0002

Fónagy, I. (1961). Communication in Poetry. Word, 17(2), 194-218. https://doi.org/10.1080/00437956.1961.11659754

Glöckner, A. & Witteman, C. (2010). Beyond dual-process models: a categorization of processes underlying intuitive judgments and decision making. Thinking and Reasoning, 16(1), 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1080/13546780903395748

Greenwald, A., McGhee, D., & Schwartz, J. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1464-1480. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.74.6.1464

Huemer, M. (2001). Skepticism and the veil of perception. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Hung, S. M., Styles, S. J., & Hsieh, P.-J. (2017). Can a word sound like a shape before you have seen it? Sound-shape mapping prior to conscious awareness. Psychological Science, 28(3), 263-275. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616677313

Jespersen, O. (1922). Symbolic value of the vowel i. Phil J Comp Phil, 1, 15-33.

Johansson, N., Anikin, A., & Aseyev, N. (2020). Color sound symbolism in natural languages. Language and Cognition, 12(1), 56-83. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2019.35

Köhler, W. (1929). Gestalt Psychology. Liveright.

Koksvik, O. (2021). Intuition as Conscious Experience. Routledge.

Lockwood, G. & Dingemanse, M. (2015). Iconicity in the lab: a review on behavioral, developmental, and neuroimaging research into sound symbolism. Frontiers of Psychology, 6, 1246. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01246

Machery, E., Mallon, R., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. (2004). Semantics, cross-cultural style. Cognition, 92, B1-B12. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2003.10.003

Machery, E. & Stich, S. (2012). The role of experiments. In G. Russell & D. G. Fara (Eds.), Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language (pp. 495-512). Routledge.

Mandelbaum, E. (2016). Attitude, inference, association: On the propositional structure of implicit biases. Noûs, 50(3), 639-658. https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12089

Maurer, D., Pathman, T., & Mondloch, C. J. (2006). The shape of boubas: Sound-shape correspondences in toddlers and adults. Developmental Science, 9(3), 316-322. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00495.x

Maynes, J. (2012). Linguistic Intuition and Calibration. Linguistics and Philosophy, 35, 443-460. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-012-9122-0

Maynes, J. (2015). Interpreting Intuition: Experimental Philosophy of Language. Philosophical Psychology, 28(2), 260-278. https://doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2013.815987

Maynes, J. & Gross, S. (2013). Linguistic Intuitions. Philosophy Compass, 8(8), 714-730. https://doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12052

McGahhey, M. & Van Leeuwen, N. (2018). Interpreting Intuitions. In J. Kirsch & P. Pedrini (Eds.), Third Person, Self-Knowledge and Self-Interpretation, and Narrative (pp. 73-98). Springer.

McLean, B, Dunn, M., & Dingemanse, M. (2023). Two measures are better than one: combining iconicity ratings and guessing experiments for a more nuanced picture of iconicity in the lexicon. Language and Cognition, 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2023.9

Motamedi, Y., Little, H., & Sulik, J. (2019). The iconicity toolbox: empirical approaches to measuring iconicity. Language and Cognition, 11(2), 188-207. https://doi.org/10.1017/langcog.2019.14

Nado, J. (2014). Why Intuition? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 86(1), 15-41. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1933-1592.2012.00644.x

Nado, J. (2016). The Intuition Deniers. Philosophical Studies, 173, 781-800. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-015-0519-9

O’Callaghan, C. (2011). Against Hearing Meanings. The Philosophical Quarterly, 61(245), 783-807. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9213.2011.704.x

O’Callaghan, C. (2015). Speech Perception. In M. Matthen (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Perception (pp. 475-495). Oxford University Press.

Parise, C. V. & Pavani, F. (2011). Evidence of sound symbolism in simple vocalizations. Experimental Brain Research, 214(3), 373-380. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-011-2836-3

Parise, C.V. & Spence, C. (2012). Audiovisual crossmodal correspondences and sound symbolism: A study using the implicit association test. Experimental Brain Research, 220, 319-333. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-012-3140-6

Parise, C. V. & Spence, C. (2013). Audiovisual cross-modal correspondences in the general population. In J. Simner & E. Hubbard (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Synaesthesia (pp. 790-815). Oxford University Press.

Parise, C. V. (2016). Crossmodal Correspondences: Standing Issues and Experimental Guidelines. Multisensory Research, 29(1-3), 7-28. https://doi.org/10.1163/22134808-00002502

Peirce, C. S. (1960). Collected Papers. Harvard University Press.

Perlman, M. (2017). Debunking two myths about origins of language. Language is iconic and multimodal at the core. Interaction Studies, 18(3), 376-401. https://doi.org/10.1075/is.18.3.05per

Perlman, M. & Lupyan, G. (2018). People can create iconic vocalizations to communicate various meanings to naïve listeners. Scientific Reports, 8, 2634. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-20961-6

Perlman, M., Dale, R., & Lupyan, G. (2015). Iconicity can ground the creation of vocal symbols. Royal Society Open Science, 2(8), 150152. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150152

Perlman, M., Little, H., Thompson, B., & Thompson, R. L. (2018). Iconicity in Signed and Spoken Vocabulary: A Comparison between American Sign Language, British Sign Language, English and Spanish. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1433. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01433

Perniss, P., Thompson, R. L., & Vigliocco, G. (2010). Iconicity as a general property of language: Evidence from spoken and signed languages. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 227. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00227

Perniss, P. & Vigliocco, G. (2014). The bridge of iconicity: from a world of experience to the experience of language. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369(1651), 20130300. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0300

Perry, L. K., Perlman, & M., Lupyan, G. (2015). Iconicity in English and Spanish and its relation to lexical category and age of acquisition, PloSOne, 10(9), e0137147. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0137147

Plato (1997). Cratylus. In J. M. Cooper & D. S. Hutchinson (Eds.). Plato: Complete works (pp. 149-151). Hackett.

Pogacar, R., Pisanki Peterlink, A., Pokorn, N. K., & Pogacar, T. (2017). Sound symbolism in translation. A case study in character names in Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist. Translation and Interpreting Studies, 12(1), 137-161. https://doi.org/10.1075/tis.12.1.07pog

Pretz, J. E. (2011). Types of intuition: inferential and holistic. In M. Sinclair (Ed.), Handbook of Intuition Research (pp. 17-27). Edward Elgar Publishers.

Ramachandran, V. S. & Hubbard, E. M. (2001). Synaesthesia – A window into Perception, Thought and Language. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8(12), 3-34.

Reiland, I. (2015). Experience, Seemings, and Evidence. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 96, 510-534. https://doi.org/10.1111/papq.12113

Sapir, E. (1929). A study in phonetic symbolism. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12(3), 225-239. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0070931

Schukraft, J. (2016). Carving Intuitions at its Joints. Metaphilosophy, 47(3), 326-352. https://doi.org/10.1111/meta.12193

Sidhu, D. M. & Pexman, P. M. (2018). Five mechanisms of sound symbolic association. Theoretical Review. Psychon. Bull. Rev., 25, 1619-1643. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1361-1

Siegel, S. (2006). Which properties are represented in perception? In T. M. Gendler, J. Hawthorne (Eds.), Perceptual Experience (pp. 481-503). Clarendon Press.

Sinclair, M. (2010). Misconceptions about intuition. Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of the Psychological Theory, 21(4), 378-386. https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2010.523874

Sinclair, M. (2011). An Integrated Framework of Intuition. In M. Sinclair (Ed.), Handbook of Intuition Research (pp. 3-16). Edward Edgard Publ. Co.

Sosa, E. (2007). Intuitions: Their Nature and Epistemic Efficacy. Grazer Philosophische Studien, 74(1), 51-67. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789401204651_004

Spence, C. (2011). Crossmodal correspondences: A tutorial review. Atten. Percept. Psychophys., 73, 971-995. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-010-0073-7

Spence, C. & Deroy, O. (2013). How automatic are crossmodal correspondences? Consciousness and Cognition, 22, 245-269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2012.12.006

Textor, M. (2009). Devitt on the epistemic authority of linguistic intuitions. Erkenntnis, 71, 395-405. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10670-009-9176-8

Thompson, V. A. (2009). Dual Process Theories: A meta-cognitive perspective. In J. S. B. T. Evans & K. Frankish (Eds.), In Two Minds: Dual processes and beyond (pp. 171-195). Oxford University Press.

Tucker, C. (2010). Why open-minded people should endorse dogmatism. Philosophical Perspectives, 24, 529-545. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1520-8583.2010.00202.x

Tucker, C. (2013). Seemings and Justification: An Introduction. In C. Tucker (Ed.), Seemings and justification: New essays on dogmatism and phenomenal conservatism (pp. 1-29). Oxford University Press.

Westbury, C. (2005). Implicit sound symbolism in lexical access: evidence from an interference task. Brain & Language, 93(1), 10-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2004.07.006

Winter, B., Perlman, M., Perry, L., & Lupyan, G. (2017). Which words are most iconic? Iconicity in English sensory words. Interaction Studies, 18(3), 430-451. https://doi.org/10.1075/is.18.3.07win

Winter, B. (2019). Sensory Linguistics. Language, perception, and metaphor. John Benjamin Publ. Co.

Winter, B., Sóskuthy, M. Perlman, P., & Dingemanse, M. (2022). Trilled /r/ is associated with roughness, linking sound and touch across spoken languages. Scientific Reports, 12, 1035. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-04311-7

Downloads

Published

2024-02-29

How to Cite

Scotto, S. C. (2024). Iconic Intuitions about Linguistic Meanings. Revista De Humanidades De Valparaíso, (24), 73–103. https://doi.org/10.22370/rhv2024iss24pp73-103

Similar Articles

1 2 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.