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I'm about to study the ding dong vs the pooh pooh theories of the origin of language. I would like to make a poll with questions like "What emotions do you associate with the word "ka:men"?" and compare whether these answers are closer to the true representation of the word rather than answers to the questions like "Which of these objects would you guess "ka:men" to represent?".

Could you recommend any reading on this topic about studies done previously? And could you please give me any tips or advice about any potential mistakes I could possibly make when analyzing the data?

Thanks very much.

Feel free to reformulate the question if it doesn't sound clear to you.

Similar research: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160912161010.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

  • In case you speak German, the following book is a nice introduction with lots of sources for further reading: Volke, Stefan. 2007. Sprachphysiognomik. Grundlagen einer leibphänomenologischen Beschreibung der Lautwahrnehmung. Freiburg/München: Karl Alber. – aslakr Sep 14 '16 at 11:44
  • I just noticed, you took that straight from Gretchen McCullens blog, so just read the recently published article on it, then: tmblr.co/ZuWOEv2C2-cZA – aslakr Sep 14 '16 at 14:56
  • @aslakr Sorry, only words shorter than 8 letters :) – Probably Sep 14 '16 at 16:04
  • @aslakr I didn't take it from anywhere, but thanks for nice sources – Probably Sep 14 '16 at 16:05
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    @Teusz It's a typo, in his particular example he means: whether the emotions associated with the [Czech word] kámen are closer to the meaning mountain/rock than when people are asked otherwise. Btw I would just think of the ridiculous 'Hentai Kamen'-movie. – aslakr Sep 15 '16 at 7:50
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Max Müller started the tradition of giving such silly names to theories of language origin in his 1861 Lectures on the Science of Language, which is available on line and which I recommend to you.

There is an interesting case of the influence of onomatopoeia on a phonological system in Stanley Newman's description of the wiyi verbs in The Yawelmani dialect of Yokuts. Following Kuroda in Yawelmani Phonology, in these verbs alone the process of lowering the underlying long high vowels /i:/ /u:/ fails to occur.

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  • Yeah, I know these, thank you. Maybe I'd rather appreciate specific research recommendation. – Probably Nov 19 '16 at 17:30
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@Probably, by the looks of it, you are in for a lot of primary research, though, I'd suggest you consider flipping it upside down, for the following reasons:

I would like to make a poll with questions like "What emotions do you associate with the word "ka:men"?" and compare whether these answers are closer to the true representation of the word rather than answers to the questions like "Which of these objects would you guess "ka:men" to represent?".

You might have a hard time collecting a sufficiently large number of responses to validate your analysis. However, you could turn this around and look at how various languages express certain primitive / instinctive emotions. This wiki entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-linguistic_onomatopoeias has a fair amount of reliable data both for emotions and for things that have characteristic sounds - these could serve as a reference point for both theories as well as a pretty solid ground for your research hypothesis.

This is by no means supposed to imply not to conduct your experiment, but it might be a lot more tricky to conduct than you think. A fascinating read that would also be appropriate for the second half of your questions would be: https://books.google.hu/books?id=oEO0BQAAQBAJ

Even if you do not have the time to read it cover to cover, its overview of language origin theories would be a solid background. The experiment design sections may also be beneficial for your own poll setup.

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