How to express evolution in English Pokémon names
Shigeto Kawahara, Jeff Moore
March 2020
 

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 were systematically different in some phonological properties. The results show the following sound symbolic patterns to be productive: (1) names with higher segment counts are more likely to be associated with post-evolution characters than names with lower segment counts, (2) names containing [a] are more likely to be associated with post-evolution characters than names containing [i], (3) names containing [u] are more likely to be associated with post-evolution characters than names containing [i], and (4) names containing coronals are more likely to be associated with post-evolution characters than names containing labials. 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: To appear in Linguistics
keywords: sound symbolism, pokémonastics, voiced obstruents, vowels, labials, fricatives, the iconicity of quantity, phonology
previous versions: v2 [January 2020]
v1 [November 2019]
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