Pointy/Curvy Sounds (11-10-21)

Research continues on sounds linked to curving and rectilinear forms.  Cwiek and colleagues report that “Most people around the world agree that the made-up word ‘bouba’ sounds round in shape, and the made-up word ‘kiki’ sounds pointy – a discovery that may help to explain how spoken languages develop, according to a new study. Language scientists have discovered that this effect exists independently of the language that a person speaks or the writing system that they use, and it could be a clue to the origins of spoken words. . . . The ‘bouba/kiki effect’ is thought to derive from phonetic and articulatory features of the words, for example, the rounded lips of the 'b' and the stressed vowel in ‘bouba’, and the intermittent stopping and starting of air in pronouncing ‘kiki’.”  This study is published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

“Perceptual Links Between Sound and Shape May Unlock Origins of Spoken Words.”  2021.  Press release, University of Birmingham, https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2021/11/unlock-origins-of-spoke...