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Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 20

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Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 20, No. 1, pp.180-208
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Mar 2020
Received 22 May 2020 Revised 20 Jun 2020 Accepted 30 Jun 2020

Cross-modal Mapping in L1 Korean and L2 English Sound Symbolism
Yun, Gwanhi
Daegu University

Copyright 2020 KASELL
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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We have investigated whether the association of sounds and shapes is observed in Korean L1 ideophones and L2 English words and pseudowords. First, we found that the linkage between shapes and sounds emerges in a limited scale with respect to Korean L1 ideophones and vowel harmony. This finding may stem from the fact that light/dark vowel distinction relating to Korean vowel harmony differs from the common vowel distinction based on front/back dimensions observed across languages. Second, in lexical decision task and explicit association test, we have shown that the correlation of visually and auditorily presented sounds and shapes takes place with regard to stop/fricative distinction. Moreover, the number of consonants contained within the words predicted the robustness of the association of the consonant type and shapes. Furthermore, it was found that round shapes were preferred for back rounded vowels and spiky shapes were associated with front vowels in L2 English. Thus, the presence or strength of the bondage of shapes and sounds might differ according to L1-specific phonological rules, L2 sound types or the type of behavioral task.

Keywords: sound symbolism, Korean vowel harmony, cross-modal correspondence, sound-shape association, lexical decision task, explicit association test


This research was supported by the Daegu University Research Grant, 2019. I am grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their constructive and thorough feedback and comments. All remaining errors are mine.

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Yun, Gwanhi (Professor)Dept. of English Literature and LanguageDaegu University201 Daegudaero, JinryangGyeongsan Gyeongbuk 38453Tel: 053-850-6025E-mail: