Sound symbolism and the Bouba-Kiki effect : uniting function and mechanism in the search for language universals

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Nielsen, Alan Kirkland Staun
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, c2011
In contemporary linguistics, the relationship between word form and meaning is assumed to be arbitrary: words are mutually agreed upon symbolic tokens whose form is entirely unrelated to the objects or events that they denote. Despite the dictum of arbitrariness, examples of correspondences between word form and meaning have been studied periodically over the last century, labeled collectively under the banner of sound symbolism. To investigate the phenomenon of sound symbolism, a series of experiments was conducted on the classic Bouba-Kiki phenomenon. These experiments not only addressed previous methodological and interpretive issues of earlier research, but also entailed a more fine grained approach that allowed for a clearer delineation of the word characteristics responsible for sound symbolic biases. An interpretation of the findings of these experiments is presented that is both in line with potential functional accounts of sound symbolism and also grounded in probable mechanistic instantiations.
x, 166 leaves ; 29 cm
Sound symbolism , Dissertations, Academic