Sound symbolism, sonority, and swearing : an affect induction perspective

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Yardy, Brandon John
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, 2010
The relationship between word form and word meaning has been debated since early Greek philosophy. Conventionally, the relationship is held to be arbitrary: that there is no natural connection between a word and what it represents (de Saussure 1959). In contrast, examples of sound symbolism undermine this linguistic tenet by demonstrating non-arbitrary word meanings conveyed in details of the acoustic signal of the words themselves. The Affect Induction model of animal communication offers a natural explanation for some forms of sound symbolism in language. According to the Affect Induction model, the physical properties of signals influence receiver affect and behavior in specific ways through relatively direct effects on core sensory, psychological and affective processes. To investigate the possible implications of this model for sound symbolism in human language, a set of studies was conducted on the classic “bouba-kiki” phenomenon. An analysis was subsequently undertaken to extend the results of experiments to several corpuses of real words classically associated with divergent affective themes. Results suggest that the Affect Induction model might account for some forms of sound symbolism, as instantiated in real word usage.
viii, 89 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm
Sound symbolism -- Research , Phonemics , Distinctive features (Linguistics) , Phonetics , Dissertations, Academic