Friday, May 10, 2013

The Sound and the Shapey - Conclusion

The results of the poll from the post, The Sound and the Shapey -
The blue shape is a kiki and the green shape is a bouba. 91.8%

The results of the poll from the post, The Sound and the Shapey 2 -
The shape on the left is a takete, and the shape on the right is a maluma. 91.3%

The overall results of both polls in the previously mentioned posts illustrate what is called the Bouba-Kiki Effect; that is, the mapping of certain shapes with certain speech sounds is not an arbitrary one.

Jessica Love at The American Scholar explains that, "across multiple studies, with participants from different cultures, boubas (and other words formed with the so-called 'rounded' vowels in boo or bow) are linked to smooth, curvaceous objects, while kikis (and similar words) are associated with jagged angles and objects sharp to the touch."

The Bouba-Kiki Effect is sometimes considered a form of synesthesia, which is defined by Merriam-Webster as follows:

1 : a concomitant sensation; especially : a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated 2 : the condition marked by the experience of such sensations


Comments from the previous posts.

From idiomatico: "Sounds in which you have to round yours lips ("b") suggest rounded forms in any language. It's something that I smell."
- I love the way he extended the synesthesia aspect.

From Marcelo García Facal:  "There has been much literature about the effect of "defaults", meaning, how the fact that the option "The blue shape is a kiki and the green shape is a bouba." is chosen by default has an effect on the choice respondents finally make."

- This is the reason I posted a different version of the poll in The Sound and the Shapey 2. 
Interestingly, the results were still very similar.


Anonymous said...

Could it perhaps also have something to do with the type of vowels present in a word?

My intuition tells me that the more a vowel is 'closed' and 'frontal' (e.g. /i/), the more we associate with it sharp pointy edges, and vice versa.

...just a thought.

Laura Payne said...

Anonymous - This is not my area of expertise, but that certainly sounds like it could be worth looking into.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

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