Japanese Sound-Symbolism Facilitates Word Learning in English-Speaking Children
Article first published online: 31 JAN 2011
Copyright © 2011 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Volume 35, Issue 3, pages 575–586, April 2011
How to Cite
Kantartzis, K., Imai, M. and Kita, S. (2011), Japanese Sound-Symbolism Facilitates Word Learning in English-Speaking Children. Cognitive Science, 35: 575–586. doi: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2010.01169.x
- Issue published online: 25 MAR 2011
- Article first published online: 31 JAN 2011
- Received 5 March 2010; received in revised form 12 August 2010; accepted 24 September 2010
- Word learning;
- Language development;
- Language acquisition
Sound-symbolism is the nonarbitrary link between the sound and meaning of a word. Japanese-speaking children performed better in a verb generalization task when they were taught novel sound-symbolic verbs, created based on existing Japanese sound-symbolic words, than novel nonsound-symbolic verbs (Imai, Kita, Nagumo, & Okada, 2008). A question remained as to whether the Japanese children had picked up regularities in the Japanese sound-symbolic lexicon or were sensitive to universal sound-symbolism. The present study aimed to provide support for the latter. In a verb generalization task, English-speaking 3-year-olds were taught novel sound-symbolic verbs, created based on Japanese sound-symbolism, or novel nonsound-symbolic verbs. English-speaking children performed better with the sound-symbolic verbs, just like Japanese-speaking children. We concluded that children are sensitive to universal sound-symbolism and can utilize it in word learning and generalization, regardless of their native language.