The Language and Learning Lab is at #EvoLang11!

Oksana Tkachman will be in New Orleans at EvoLang 2016 presenting our (Tkachman & Hudson Kam) poster “Arbitrariness of Iconicity: The Sources (and Forces) of (Dis)similarities in Iconic Representations”.

It’s a reporting of our initial findings on a really cool new project Oksana is running. Here’s a brief description of what the study is about:

“Our study investigates factors that might lead to favoring some features of
referents over others in iconic representations. We investigate this by having
hearing, sign-naïve adult participants invent gestured names for easily
recognizable objects. The items participants were asked to create signs for
differed along a number of dimensions that we hypothesize might influence the
nature of the iconic representation, as shown in Figure 1. For instance, some of
the items were man-made while others were part of the natural world, as it has
been claimed that man-made objects are represented with handling (grasping)
handshapes (Padden et al., 2013). We also investigated the effect of movement
and size, for both man-made and natural categories. We anticipated that these categories would have impact on the choice of representational features; for example, the size and shape of natural objects would be encoded in the gestures, and the man-made objects would be represented by the prototypical interaction of humans with those objects.”

If you want to know what we found, go see Oksana present the poster! (Or just email either of us for a copy. Oksana:, or


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