The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Sound Symbolic Effects of Intrinsic Pitch and Intrinsic Intensity in Dutch Vowels

Constantijn Kaland, Marie Postma-Nilsenová

Tilburg centre for Communication and Cognition (TiCC), The Netherlands

Listeners associate certain vowels and consonants with specific meanings, known as phonetic/sound symbolism. For example, the vowel /i/ is often associated with small, thin and more female entities compared to the vowel /ɑ/. Sound symbolism studies so far mainly focused on the effects of intrinsic pitch (F0) of vowels while no research has taken other intrinsic properties, such as intensity, into account. The present research investigates the effect of both intrinsic pitch and intrinsic intensity, which can be directly linked to vowel articulation, on perceptual associations. To this end a production task and a perception experiment have been carried out. The production task elicits read-aloud vowels from which measurements of intrinsic pitch and intrinsic intensity were taken. Results of an articulatory analysis on these measures show that intrinsic pitch and intrinsic intensity correlate negatively. Using a subset of the elicited vowels in the production task, the subsequent perception experiment investigated the effects of intrinsic pitch and intrinsic intensity on associated meanings. Results show that both intrinsic properties contribute to sound symbolism with intrinsic pitch being a stronger cue than intrinsic intensity.

Index Terms: Intrinsic Pitch, Intrinsic Intensity, Phonetic Symbolism, Sound Symbolism, Articulation

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Kaland, Constantijn / Postma-Nilsenová, Marie (2014): "Sound symbolic effects of intrinsic pitch and intrinsic intensity in Dutch vowels", In TAL-2014, 160-163.