Cross-sensory correspondences in language: Vowel sounds can symbolise the felt heaviness of objects

Walker, Peter * and Regina, Parameswaren C (2019) Cross-sensory correspondences in language: Vowel sounds can symbolise the felt heaviness of objects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45 (2). pp. 246-252. ISSN 0022-1015 (In Press)

Walker Peter Correspondences and Symbolism.pdf

Download (464kB) | Preview


In sound symbolism, a word's sound induces expectations about the nature of a salient aspect of the word's referent. Walker (2016a) proposed that cross-sensory correspondences can be the source of these expectations and the present study assessed three implications flowing from this proposal. First, sound symbolism will embrace a wide range of referent features, including heaviness. Second, any feature of a word's sound able to symbolise one aspect of the word's referent will also be able to symbolise corresponding aspects of the referent (e.g., a sound feature symbolising visual pointiness will also symbolise lightness in weight). Third, sound symbolism will be independent of the sensory modality through which a word's referent is encoded (e.g., whether heaviness is felt or seen). Adults judged which of two contrasting novel words was most appropriate as a name for the heavier or lighter of two otherwise identical hidden novel objects they were holding in their hands. The alternative words contrasted in their vowels and/or consonants, one or both of which were known to symbolise visual pointiness. Though the plosive or continuant nature of the consonants did not influence the judged appropriateness of a word to symbolise the heaviness of its referent, back/open vowels, compared to front/close vowels, were judged to symbolise felt heaviness. The symbolic potential of back/open vowels to represent felt heaviness, predicted on the basis of their symbolism of visual roundedness, supports the proposal that cross-sensory correspondences contribute to sound symbolism

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: sound symbolism; cross-sensory correspondences; vowel quality; felt heaviness
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Others > Non Sunway Academics
Depositing User: Dr Janaki Sinnasamy
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2018 09:36
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2020 03:03

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item