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Full Access Crossmodal correspondences in natural language: Distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns in Serbian words denoting round and angular objects

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Crossmodal correspondences in natural language: Distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns in Serbian words denoting round and angular objects

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Since described by Köhler more than half a century ago, phonetic–iconic correspondences have been demonstrated in a series of studies showing remarkable consistency in matches of pseudowords containing specific types of phonemes (e.g., Maluma or Takete) with rounded and angular shapes. If the effect found in these experiments reveals something about processes involved in natural language interpretation, we should expect similar association between phonological properties of objects’ labels and their perceptual properties to exist in natural language as well. However, results of the studies testing this effect in natural language are rather inconsistent and sometimes even contradictory. The aim of the present study was to test whether the distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns, previously found in pseudowords participants produced for the abstract visual patterns (Jankovic and Markovic, 2000, Perception 29 ECVP Abstract Supplement), could be found in the words of natural language. For 1066 nouns denoting round and angular shapes extracted from the Corpus of Serbian Language, distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns were analyzed. Results showed that words of Serbian language denoting sharp and rounded objects show similar patterns of phoneme and consonant-vowel distributions as those found in pseudowords produced for sharp and rounded visual stimuli, and therefore provide further evidence for cross-modal correspondences in natural language. These findings were discussed in the light of the role crossmodal correspondences can have in the natural language acquisition.

Affiliations: 1: 2Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, University of Belgrade, RR

Since described by Köhler more than half a century ago, phonetic–iconic correspondences have been demonstrated in a series of studies showing remarkable consistency in matches of pseudowords containing specific types of phonemes (e.g., Maluma or Takete) with rounded and angular shapes. If the effect found in these experiments reveals something about processes involved in natural language interpretation, we should expect similar association between phonological properties of objects’ labels and their perceptual properties to exist in natural language as well. However, results of the studies testing this effect in natural language are rather inconsistent and sometimes even contradictory. The aim of the present study was to test whether the distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns, previously found in pseudowords participants produced for the abstract visual patterns (Jankovic and Markovic, 2000, Perception 29 ECVP Abstract Supplement), could be found in the words of natural language. For 1066 nouns denoting round and angular shapes extracted from the Corpus of Serbian Language, distribution of phonemes and consonant-vowel patterns were analyzed. Results showed that words of Serbian language denoting sharp and rounded objects show similar patterns of phoneme and consonant-vowel distributions as those found in pseudowords produced for sharp and rounded visual stimuli, and therefore provide further evidence for cross-modal correspondences in natural language. These findings were discussed in the light of the role crossmodal correspondences can have in the natural language acquisition.

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1. Jankovic D., Markovic S. (2000). Phonetic–iconic congruency: Takete–Maluma phenomenon. Perception 29 ECVP Abstract Supplement.
http://brill.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648035
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/content/journals/10.1163/187847612x648035
2012-01-01
2016-12-06

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