15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

How People Imitate Natural Sounds? - A Study of English and Japanese Onomatopoeic Expressions

Isao Hara

Sophia University, Japan

This study focuses on the relation ship between natural sounds and their onomatopoeias in English and Japanese. Japanese has many sound-symbolic words but English is said to have few. However, sound symbolism is said to be a universal feature common to human language. English speakers can imitate some natural phenomena though their expressions do not have the onomatopoeic features. For the experiment, 15 English and 15 Japanese subjects were asked to imitate sounds that that have similar acoustic features. Recorded data were transcribed and analyzed in terms of speech sounds. Researchers note that the F2 show the characteristics of natural sounds, but this study focuses on noises. Results shows that the imitating expressions are different, though there are common features in expressions.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hara, Isao (2003): "How people imitate natural sounds? - a study of English and Japanese onomatopoeic expressions", In ICPhS-15, 3205-3208.