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Linguistics Colloquium

Stephanie Shih, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Southern California
Friday, September 21, 2018
4:00-5:30 PM
R2230 Ross School of Business Map
The Department of Linguistics Fall 2018 Colloquium Series begins September 21st with a presentation by Stephanie Shih, Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Southern California.

Catching phonology in the Pokéverse: Cross-linguistic comparisons in sound symbolism

Sound symbolism flouts the core assumption of the arbitrariness of the sign in human language. 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 talk, I present a rich, cross-linguistic dataset that addresses the challenges of cross-linguistic comparison by providing a controlled reference ‘universe’: the Pokémon game franchise. Pokémon names are compared across six languages—Japanese, English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, and Russian. The results show that while languages have a tendency to encode the same attributes with sound symbolism, they crucially also feature differences in sound symbol-ism that are rooted in language-specific grammar dependence. The Pokémon findings are significant to understanding how phonology interacts with the real world, in the cueing of socioculturally-defined categories.
Building: Ross School of Business
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: colloquium, Discussion
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Linguistics