Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The iconicity toolbox: Empirical approaches to measuring iconicity

Motamedi, Yasamin; Little, Hannah; Nielsen, Alan; Sulik, Justin

The iconicity toolbox: Empirical approaches to measuring iconicity Thumbnail


Yasamin Motamedi

Profile Image

Hannah Little
Senior Lecturer in Science Communication

Alan Nielsen

Justin Sulik


© 2019 UK Cognitive Linguistics Association. Growing evidence from across the cognitive sciences indicates that iconicity plays an important role in a number of fundamental language processes, spanning learning, comprehension, and online use. One benefit of this recent upsurge in empirical work is the diversification of methods available for measuring iconicity. In this paper, we provide an overview of methods in the form of a 'toolbox'. We lay out empirical methods for measuring iconicity at a behavioural level, in the perception, production, and comprehension of iconic forms. We also discuss large-scale studies that look at iconicity on a system-wide level, based on objective measures of similarity between signals and meanings. We give a detailed overview of how different measures of iconicity can better address specific hypotheses, providing greater clarity when choosing testing methods.


Motamedi, Y., Little, H., Nielsen, A., & Sulik, J. (2019). The iconicity toolbox: Empirical approaches to measuring iconicity. Language and Cognition, 11(2), 188-207.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 7, 2019
Online Publication Date Jun 27, 2019
Publication Date Jun 1, 2019
Deposit Date May 21, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 21, 2019
Journal Language and Cognition
Print ISSN 1866-9808
Electronic ISSN 1866-9859
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 2
Pages 188-207
Public URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations