Cross-linguistic and language-specific sound symbolism: Pokémonastics
Stephanie Shih, Jordan Ackerman, Noah Hermalin, Sharon Inkelas, Hayeun Jang, Jessica Johnson, Darya Kavitskaya, Shigeto Kawahara, Miran Oh, Rebecca Starr, Alan Yu
August 2019

The cross-linguistic prevalence of sound symbolism raises key questions about the universality versus language-specificity of sound symbolic correspondences. One challenge to studying cross-linguistic sound symbolic patterns is the difficulty of holding constant the real-world referents across cultures. In this study, we address the challenge of cross-linguistic comparison by utilizing a rich, cross-linguistic dataset drawn from a multilingual entertainment franchise, Pokémon. Within this controlled universe, we compare the sound symbolisms of Pokémon names (pokemonikers) in six languages: Japanese, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Russian. Our results show that the languages have a tendency to encode the same attributes with sound symbolism, but crucially also reveal that differences in sound symbolism are rooted in language-specific structural and lexical constraints.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004725
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: manuscript
keywords: sound symbolism; iconicity; names; onomastics; phonology; corpus linguistics; cognitive science; english; japanese; mandarin; cantonese; russian; korean; translation; localization, phonology
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