Sound Symbolic Relationship between Onomatopoeia and Emotional Evaluations in Taste

Tatsuki KagitaniThe University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo, Japan
Mao GotoThe University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo, Japan
Junji WatanabeNTT Communication Science Laboratories, Atsugi, Japan
Maki SakamotoThe University of Electro-Communications, Tokyo, Japan

Abstract

Many languages have a word class whose speech sounds are linked to sensory experiences (sound symbolism). Here we investigated sound symbolism in taste. Specifically, we performed psychological experiments to study the relationship between phonemes of Japanese sound symbolic words and emotional evaluations of objects in taste. In the experiment, when participants drank something, they were asked to express the taste sensation using Japanese sound symbolic words and then rate the comfort of the object with the semantic differential (SD) method. This experiment was aimed at specifying the systematic association between phonemes of Japanese onomatopoeic words and taste-emotion evaluations. Our results showed the existence of unique associations between the phonemes of the words for expressing the sensation and the evaluations of comfort/discomfort in taste and showed the possibility to clarify taste categories using sound symbolic method. As previous studies have suggested, onomatopoeic words expressing food texture are more easily used for emotional evaluations in taste than those expressing taste itself. However, we found a strong association between phonemes and SD scales related to taste such as “sweet”, “bitter”, and “salty”. Therefore, we showed that sound symbolic words could be important indexes in investigating various level of perceptual dimension of taste including emotional evaluations like comfort/discomfort.

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