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Systematicity and arbitrariness in novel communication systems

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Abstract

Arbitrariness and systematicity are two of language’s most fascinating properties. Although both are characterizations of the mappings between signals and meanings, their emergence and evolution in communication systems has generally been explored independently. We present an experiment in which both arbitrariness and systematicity are probed. Participants invent signs from scratch to refer to a set of items that share salient semantic features. Through interaction, the systematic re-use of arbitrary signal elements emerges.

References

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