Sound Advice for Your Writing

For example, when presented with two made-up words and asked to assign one to a jagged drawing and the other to a smooth-lined drawing, 95 percent of people put the same words with the same drawings. They automatically knew which words fit where. The phenomenon is not limited to what we see, either. Subjects in another study consistently matched high vowel sounds (such as “ooh”) with sweet tastes, and low vowel sounds (such as a short “a”) with sour.

The fact that children are far quicker to recall sound-symbolic terms, such as onomatopoeia, also points to the role of imbedded psychological circuitry in how we interpret language.

Consider, also, how some sounds have become intrinsically linked to certain subjects. For example, “sn” is constantly associated with things to do with the nose, such as “snout”, “sniff”, “sneeze”, “snore” and “snorkel”. “Fl” often appears when we talk about moving through the air, as in “fly”, “flail,” “flit,” “flip,” and “fling.” Meanwhile “wh” is a favorite when speaking about the production of sound, such as in “whisper”, “whine,” “whirr,” “whimper” and “wheeze”.

Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Well, so is Charles Spence at the University of Oxford. He is seeing which sounds people most closely associate with confectionaries to help develop enticing new candy bar names that speak to our inner glutton.

You may not have time to run focus groups asking people to vocalize their inner feelings about your product or service but these theories show it’s probably worth thinking about the phonetic beauty of what you write. Because we’re all poets at heart…even those of us who didn’t care much for Cummings and Keats.

You might also be interested to know that we’re also all multilingual, because the connection between sound and meaning runs through other languages too. When presented with antonyms, such as fast/slow, in a foreign language, people are able to identify which word means what with more success than if they just guessed.

So không hiểu, from your friends at Chempetitive, who just made you a poet in multiple languages in one post.