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What's in a Name? Sound Symbolism and Gender in First Names.

Sidhu DM, Pexman PM - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: We found that the roundness/sharpness of the phonemes in first names impacted whether the names were associated with round or sharp shapes in the form of character silhouettes (Experiments 1a and 1b).We found that adjectives previously judged to be either descriptive of a figuratively 'round' or a 'sharp' personality were associated with names containing either round- or sharp-sounding phonemes, respectively.These results demonstrate that sound symbolic associations extend to existing lexical stimuli, providing a new example of non-arbitrary mappings between form and meaning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Although the arbitrariness of language has been considered one of its defining features, studies have demonstrated that certain phonemes tend to be associated with certain kinds of meaning. A well-known example is the Bouba/Kiki effect, in which nonwords like bouba are associated with round shapes while nonwords like kiki are associated with sharp shapes. These sound symbolic associations have thus far been limited to nonwords. Here we tested whether or not the Bouba/Kiki effect extends to existing lexical stimuli; in particular, real first names. We found that the roundness/sharpness of the phonemes in first names impacted whether the names were associated with round or sharp shapes in the form of character silhouettes (Experiments 1a and 1b). We also observed an association between femaleness and round shapes, and maleness and sharp shapes. We next investigated whether this association would extend to the features of language and found the proportion of round-sounding phonemes was related to name gender (Analysis of Category Norms). Finally, we investigated whether sound symbolic associations for first names would be observed for other abstract properties; in particular, personality traits (Experiment 2). We found that adjectives previously judged to be either descriptive of a figuratively 'round' or a 'sharp' personality were associated with names containing either round- or sharp-sounding phonemes, respectively. These results demonstrate that sound symbolic associations extend to existing lexical stimuli, providing a new example of non-arbitrary mappings between form and meaning.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Percentage of Round-Sounding and Sharp-Sounding Consonants in Typical Names.The percentage of round-sounding and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes within either typical female or male names. Error bars reflect 95% confidence intervals computed using the method outlined by Cousineau [31] to remove between-item variability.
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pone.0126809.g003: Percentage of Round-Sounding and Sharp-Sounding Consonants in Typical Names.The percentage of round-sounding and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes within either typical female or male names. Error bars reflect 95% confidence intervals computed using the method outlined by Cousineau [31] to remove between-item variability.

Mentions: The data set used in the following analyses is presented and is labeled S3 Dataset. We evaluated the relationship between round- and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes and gender using a logistic regression in which the dependent variable was the likelihood of a name being female. The model included proportion of round- and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes as continuous predictor variables. For a full summary see Table 5. Results indicated that the proportion of sharp-sounding consonants had no impact on the likelihood of a name being female (Wald Z = 0.02, p = .89). There was, however, an effect of the proportion of round-sounding consonants: a name containing all round-sounding phonemes was 12.60 times more likely than a name containing no round-sounding consonant phonemes to be female (Wald Z = 9.07, p = .003). See Fig 3.


What's in a Name? Sound Symbolism and Gender in First Names.

Sidhu DM, Pexman PM - PLoS ONE (2015)

Percentage of Round-Sounding and Sharp-Sounding Consonants in Typical Names.The percentage of round-sounding and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes within either typical female or male names. Error bars reflect 95% confidence intervals computed using the method outlined by Cousineau [31] to remove between-item variability.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4446333&req=5

pone.0126809.g003: Percentage of Round-Sounding and Sharp-Sounding Consonants in Typical Names.The percentage of round-sounding and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes within either typical female or male names. Error bars reflect 95% confidence intervals computed using the method outlined by Cousineau [31] to remove between-item variability.
Mentions: The data set used in the following analyses is presented and is labeled S3 Dataset. We evaluated the relationship between round- and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes and gender using a logistic regression in which the dependent variable was the likelihood of a name being female. The model included proportion of round- and sharp-sounding consonant phonemes as continuous predictor variables. For a full summary see Table 5. Results indicated that the proportion of sharp-sounding consonants had no impact on the likelihood of a name being female (Wald Z = 0.02, p = .89). There was, however, an effect of the proportion of round-sounding consonants: a name containing all round-sounding phonemes was 12.60 times more likely than a name containing no round-sounding consonant phonemes to be female (Wald Z = 9.07, p = .003). See Fig 3.

Bottom Line: We found that the roundness/sharpness of the phonemes in first names impacted whether the names were associated with round or sharp shapes in the form of character silhouettes (Experiments 1a and 1b).We found that adjectives previously judged to be either descriptive of a figuratively 'round' or a 'sharp' personality were associated with names containing either round- or sharp-sounding phonemes, respectively.These results demonstrate that sound symbolic associations extend to existing lexical stimuli, providing a new example of non-arbitrary mappings between form and meaning.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

ABSTRACT
Although the arbitrariness of language has been considered one of its defining features, studies have demonstrated that certain phonemes tend to be associated with certain kinds of meaning. A well-known example is the Bouba/Kiki effect, in which nonwords like bouba are associated with round shapes while nonwords like kiki are associated with sharp shapes. These sound symbolic associations have thus far been limited to nonwords. Here we tested whether or not the Bouba/Kiki effect extends to existing lexical stimuli; in particular, real first names. We found that the roundness/sharpness of the phonemes in first names impacted whether the names were associated with round or sharp shapes in the form of character silhouettes (Experiments 1a and 1b). We also observed an association between femaleness and round shapes, and maleness and sharp shapes. We next investigated whether this association would extend to the features of language and found the proportion of round-sounding phonemes was related to name gender (Analysis of Category Norms). Finally, we investigated whether sound symbolic associations for first names would be observed for other abstract properties; in particular, personality traits (Experiment 2). We found that adjectives previously judged to be either descriptive of a figuratively 'round' or a 'sharp' personality were associated with names containing either round- or sharp-sounding phonemes, respectively. These results demonstrate that sound symbolic associations extend to existing lexical stimuli, providing a new example of non-arbitrary mappings between form and meaning.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus