Developmental change in children's sensitivity to sound symbolism.


The current study examined developmental change in children's sensitivity to sound symbolism. Three-, five-, and seven-year-old children heard sound symbolic novel words and foreign words meaning round and pointy and chose which of two pictures (one round and one pointy) best corresponded to each word they heard. Task performance varied as a function of both word type and age group such that accuracy was greater for novel words than for foreign words, and task performance increased with age for both word types. For novel words, children in all age groups reliably chose the correct corresponding picture. For foreign words, 3-year-olds showed chance performance, whereas 5- and 7-year-olds showed reliably above-chance performance. Results suggest increased sensitivity to sound symbolic cues with development and imply that although sensitivity to sound symbolism may be available early and facilitate children's word-referent mappings, sensitivity to subtler sound symbolic cues requires greater language experience.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.03.004

Cite this paper

@article{Tzeng2017DevelopmentalCI, title={Developmental change in children's sensitivity to sound symbolism.}, author={Christina Y. Tzeng and Lynne C. Nygaard and Laura L. Namy}, journal={Journal of experimental child psychology}, year={2017}, volume={160}, pages={107-118} }