Despite Saussure's famous observation that sound-meaning relationships are in principle arbitrary, we now have a substantial body of evidence that sounds themselves can have meanings, patterns often referred to as "sound symbolism". Previous studies have found that particular sounds can be associated with particular meanings, and also with particular static visual shapes. Less well studied is the association between sounds and dynamic movements. Using a free elicitation method, the current experiment shows that several sound symbolic associations between sounds and dynamic movements exist: (1) front vowels are more likely to be associated with small movements than with large movements; (2) front vowels are more likely to be associated with angular movements than with round movements; (3) obstruents are more likely to be associated with angular movements than with round movements; (4) voiced obstruents are more likely to be associated with large movements than with small movements. All of these results are compatible with the results of the previous studies of sound symbolism using static images or meanings. Overall, the current study supports the hypothesis that particular dynamic motions can be associated with particular sounds. Building on the current results, we discuss a possible practical application of these sound symbolic associations in sports instructions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)