Phonetic Symbolism

Two forms of phonetic symbolism exist: “associative or referential, and phonic or expressive.” An experiment attempted to measure feelings of symbolism associated with certain vowels and consonants, separated from the meaningful words in which these letters usually appear. The results found that participants were more likely to consider fake words with the letter ‘a’ larger than fake words with the letter ‘i’. The researchers concluded that “acoustically, certain vowels have greater "volume" than others,” causing them to be subconsciously assigned more symbolic importance, regardless of “any actual word associations of the language.”