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Linguistics Vanguard

A Multimodal Journal for the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Bergs, Alexander / Cohn, Abigail C. / Good, Jeff

CiteScore 2018: 0.95

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.381
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.841

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Antonym adjective pairs and prosodic iconicity: evidence from letter replications in an English blogger corpus

Susanne FuchsORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6751-9286 / Egor SavinORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4209-1003 / Stephanie SoltORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3269-8461 / Cornelia EbertORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4833-8655 / Manfred KrifkaORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9610-8352
Published Online: 2019-01-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0017


While the general assumption has long been that natural languages exhibit an arbitrary pairing of form and meaning, there is increasing empirical evidence that iconicity in language is not uncommon. One example from spoken language involves iconic prosodic modulation, i.e. the changing of prosodic features such as duration and fundamental frequency to express meanings such as size and speed. In this paper, we use data from an English social media corpus, with 140 million words written by 19,320 bloggers, to investigate a counterpart to iconic prosodic modulation in written language, namely letter replications (e.g. loooong). We examine pairs of gradable adjectives such as short/long, tiny/huge and fast/slow, finding a higher frequency of letter replications for adjectives associated with greater size or spatial/temporal extent. We did not find an iconic effect on the number of replicated letters. Our results show evidence for iconic prosody in written language, and further demonstrate that social media databases offer an excellent opportunity to investigate naturalistic written language.

Keywords: iconic lengthening; prosody; social media; English; scalarity


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About the article

Received: 2018-03-28

Accepted: 2018-07-18

Published Online: 2019-01-11

Citation Information: Linguistics Vanguard, Volume 5, Issue 1, 20180017, ISSN (Online) 2199-174X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/lingvan-2018-0017.

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