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Re: the "Sounds like" results

From:Hawksinger <hawksinger@...>
Date:Friday, December 11, 1998, 1:27
And Rosta wrote:

> It is easy to disprove this. Here's my ill-recollected version of an > experiment proposed by some august American linguist (I forget who). > [Brad Coon? Are you listening? Does that ring a bell?] > One of the following words means "a small object with a jagged spiny > exterior", and the other means "a large amorphous cloudlike shape". > > kikiriki > > shmoozh (i.e. [Smu:Z]) > > -- which is which? The answer is so obvious that one needn't actually > conduct the experiment to know that answers would give vastly better than > chance results (though in classes when I have conducted it I get 100% > agreement). >
I don't recall this particular experiment but I have read of too many others to doubt that there are indeed patterns that seem to naturally sound more like their meaning. I have read papers on words for bird for instance, which overwhelmingly have high front vowels. My first linguistics experiment was 28 years ago, when at the age of 15, I compiled a list of antonyms from various unrelated languages. The English was used a key and the languages were not chosen because of any particular words in them. I had people match the pairs with their meanings, it was a very consistent 60% correct overall and some pairs were 90% guessed accurately. More interesting too me is the association of shapes with certain sound patterns. English's pattern of flat, flap, plain (landscape), palm (of hand), etc. where level, flat surface is associated with labial(ized) consonant and liquid is surprisingly common. I wrote a paper for my last grad psych class on the phenomenon. I was inspired at the time by the work of a psychologist named Biederman (sp??). Unfortunately, it appears to have died with my harddrive on my old computer. -- Brad Coon My Conlang and Conculture pages Most of my pages including my home page My Outdoor and Primitive Skills Pages My wine pages. "Life without adventure is merely existance."--Hawksinger