Notions of arbitrariness

Mind and Language (forthcoming)
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Arbitrariness is a distinctive feature of human language, and a growing body of comparative work is investigating its presence in animal communication. But what is arbitrariness, exactly? We propose to distinguish four notions of semiotic arbitrariness: a notion of opaque association between sign forms and semiotic functions, one of sign-function mapping optionality, one of acquisition-dependent sign-function coupling, and one of lack of motivatedness. We characterize these notions, illustrate the benefits of keeping them apart, and describe two reactions to our proposal: abandoning arbitrariness-talk in favor of the newly introduced conceptual vocabulary, or feeding the distinctions back into the parent concept.



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Author Profiles

Luca Gasparri
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Hans-Johann Glock
University of Zürich
Piera Filippi
University of Vienna
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Citations of this work

Inherent and probabilistic naturalness.Luca Gasparri - 2024 - Philosophical Studies 181 (2):369-385.

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