Kawahara & Moore (2019) – How to express evolution in English Pokémon names

How to express evolution in English Pokémon names
Shigeto Kawahara, Jeff Moore
direct link: http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/004891
November 2019
This paper is a contribution to the studies of sound symbolism, systematic relationships between sounds and meanings. Specifically, we build on a series of studies conducted within a research paradigm called “Pokémonastics,” which uses the Pokémon universe to explore sound symbolic patterns in natural languages. Inspired by a study of existing English Pokémon names (Shih et al. 2018), two experiments were conducted in which native speakers of English were provided with pairs of pre-evolution and post-evolution Pokémon characters, the latter of which were always larger. The participants were given two name choices whose members are systematically different in some phonological properties. The results show the following sound symbolic patterns to be productive: the English-speaking participants tend to associate large post-evolution characters with (1) names with more segments, (2) names containing [a], (3) names containing [u], and (4) names containing coronals. Overall, the current results suggest that phonological considerations come into play when English speakers name new creatures. Implications of the current results for the theories of sound symbolism are discussed throughout the paper. [This paper supersedes lingbuzz/004143]

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004891
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: revision submitted
keywords: sound symbolism, pokémonastics, voiced obstruents, vowels, labials, fricatives, the iconicity of quantity, phonology