Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
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This paper describes a structural account of phonetic symbolism and submits it to empirical investigation. To enable testing for possible iconic sound–emotion relations, participants compared pairs of syllables (e.g.,  – ) as well as pairs of emotional states (e.g., joyful – sad) on various perceptual scales (e.g., softness). In addition, we replicated the classic ‘bouba/kiki’ experiment to investigate sound-shape symbolism. In accordance with the theoretical model, the results of the experimental tasks suggest that participants can detect abstract similarities between speech sounds and emotions as well as geometrical shapes. We discuss the theoretical model and the experimental results in relation to previous empirical findings and conflicting evidence from the study of affective iconicity in poetry.


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