Cross-Linguistic Sound to Meaning Mappings in Relational Terms: The Role of Acoustic Form in Judgments of Word Meaning Público

McCormick, Kelly (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9p290978w?locale=es
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Abstract


Abstract
Cross-Linguistic Sound to Meaning Mappings in Relational Terms: The Role of Acoustic
Form in Judgments of Word Meaning
Language is a hallmark of the human mind, and pervades human experience. Since
ancient Hindu and Greek philosophers, humans have pondered how it is that words carry
meaning. A central question is whether words can have inherent meaning (Plato's
'natural meaning'), or whether words assume meaning only by language-specific
convention. The classic and predominant view of human language is that the relationship
between sound and meaning is arbitrary (de Saussure, 1959; Hockett 1960; Pinker, 1994).
The sounds that comprise words bear no inherent relationship to the things in the world
that they represent. Over the past century, however, research has provided evidence for
non-arbitrary mappings in language (Sapir, 1929; Nuckolls, 1999). To date, a majority of
empirical work has focused on sound to meaning correspondences for concrete, sensory
domains of meaning. I examine whether similar mappings exist for relational terms,
which take their meaning largely from context, and in relation to one another. Acoustic
analyses of proximal and distal relational terms across multiple languages were
conducted to determine whether characteristics of the sound structure of these terms
reliably map to meaning. An experiment was then conducted to determine whether
listeners could judge word meaning in foreign relational terms from sound structure
alone.
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Table of Contents

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Table of Contents
Introduction








1
Cross-linguistic Acoustic Analysis





8
Materials








8
Procedure








10
Results and Discussion






11
Word Level Analysis






12
Vowel Level Analysis






12
Summary








15
Meaning Judgments







16
Method








16
Participants






16
Stimulus Materials





17
Procedure







17
Results and Discussion






18
Correlations Between Acoustic Properties and Judgments of Meaning

19
Word Level Measures






19
Vowel Level Measures






20
Summary








20
General Discussion







21
Conclusion








26
References








28
Footnotes









32
Tables









33
Figure Captions








35

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