What's in a villain's name? Sound symbolic values of voiced obstruents and bilabial consonants

Ryoko Uno, Kazuko Shinohara, Yuta Hosokawa, Naho Atsumi, Gakuji Kumagai, Shigeto Kawahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper reports two case studies of sound symbolism using the naturalistic name corpora of characters from Disney and Pokémon. Building upon previous studies of sound symbolism, we tested two hypotheses: (1) voiced obstruents, which are generally associated with negative images, are favored in villainous characters' names, while (2) bilabial consonants, which are symbolically associated with cuteness, are disfavored in such names. The results show that these tendencies hold in our corpora, suggesting that a concept that is as complex as “villain” can be signaled via sound symbolism. Theoretical implications for cognitive linguistics based on our results are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-457
Number of pages30
JournalReview of Cognitive Linguistics
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 4
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bilabials
  • Evil/good
  • Naming
  • Obstruents
  • Sound symbolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

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