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    Rights statement: This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. © 2016 American Psychological Association

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Cross-sensory correspondences and symbolism in spoken and written language

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
Issue number9
Volume42
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)1339-1361
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/02/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Lexical sound symbolism in language appears to exploit the feature associations embedded in cross-sensory correspondences. For example, words incorporating relatively high acoustic frequencies (i.e., front/close rather than back/open vowels) are deemed more appropriate as names for concepts associated with brightness, lightness in weight, sharpness, smallness, speed and thinness, because higher pitched sounds appear to have these cross-sensory features. Correspondences also support prosodic sound symbolism. For example, speakers might raise the fundamental frequency of their voice to emphasise the smallness of the concept they are naming. The conceptual nature of correspondences and their functional bi-directionality indicate they should also support other types of symbolism, including a visual equivalent of prosodic sound symbolism. For example, the correspondence between auditory pitch and visual thinness predicts that a typeface with relatively thin letter strokes will reinforce a word's reference to a relatively high pitch sound (e.g., squeal). An initial rating study confirms that the thinness-thickness of a typeface's letter strokes accesses the same cross-sensory correspondences observed elsewhere. A series of speeded word classification experiments then confirms that the thinness-thickness of letter strokes can facilitate a reader's comprehension of the pitch of a sound named by a word (thinner letter strokes being appropriate for higher pitch sounds), as can the brightness of the text (e.g., white-on-grey text being appropriate for the names of higher pitch sounds). It is proposed that the elementary visual features of text are represented in the same conceptual system as word meaning, allowing cross-sensory correspondences to support visual symbolism in language.

Bibliographic note

This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. © 2016 American Psychological Association