Colloquium: Gabriel Greenberg (UCLA)
Fri October 22nd 2021, 3:30 - 5:30pm
Title: "The Iconic-Symbolic Spectrum"
Abstract: It is widely thought that representations can be divided into two great families. Symbolic representations include words and complex linguistic expressions, logical and mathematical symbols, and conventionalized gestures. Iconic representations include diagrams, maps, pictures, 3D models, and depictive gestures. This distinction has become central to recent research in linguistics and cognitive science, but there is no widely accepted account of how to define it, and many apparent false starts. In this talk, I propose a new way of understanding the contrast: iconic and symbolic representations differ, not in their format, nor in the kinds of content they express, but in the types of semantic rules which connect representations with content. I go on to develop an account of this distinction through the lens of contemporary formal semantics. The two kinds of rules turn out to have fundamentally different forms, and define two poles on a spectrum of possible representational kinds.
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