Sound symbolism in learning: An exploratory study on the effect of sound symbolism on guessing and recall
Chew, Valentia Zi Xin
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Sound symbolism, sound acoustics that have meaning, had been proposed and established by several papers to be an inherent learning bias that facilitates learning. In iterated learning literature, cultural transmission of learning bias had an effect on the evolution of language. If sound symbolism is, indeed, an inherent learning bias, an iterated learning paradigm is expected to enhance the effect of sound symbolism leading to production labels that are more sound symbolic. The current study directly tests the relationship between sound symbolism and cultural transmission in 2 experiments involving a stage short-diffusion chain study, where people learn the names of fake viruses in a learning-by-guessing 4-AFC task and their errorful recollections are used as the training items for a second group. The guessing/mapping stage and the production stage were separated to tease out the effect of sound symbolism on comprehension and on production of fully-learned word labels. Sound symbolism was found to facilitate the mapping of the novel virus names to novel virus pictures during guessing, particularly for virus name congruent to shape of the virus. It does not, however, have an effect on recall in the production stage. The findings suggests that sound symbolism facilitates mapping of sound-shape only on a unconscious perception level but not on a deliberate production level which would explain why sound symbolism and iconicity are more common in early verb learning as language learning mostly takes place through comprehension (more perceptual) before production (more deliberate).
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University