ISCA Archive ISAPh 2018
ISCA Archive ISAPh 2018

Teaching phonetics through sound symbolism

Shigeto Kawahara

Teaching introductory phonetics classes can be challenging for several reasons. One reason is that students are introduced with many new concepts such as place of articulation, manner of articulation, and the obstruent/sonorant distinction. Remembering these classification terms can be overwhelming and/or boring. Another challenge is that while many students taking phonetics classes are humanity major students who often do not like mathematics, understanding phonetics does require basic background in mathematics and physics. In this paper, I summarize my pedagogical attempt to lower the psychological boundary of students against learning these concepts by making use of sound symbolism in introductory phonetics class [1]. Analyses of sound symbolic patterns can be presented using materials that students are familiar with (e.g. Disney characters and Pokémon monsters), so that the students feel that classification terms that phoneticians use are “real”. Furthermore, since some sound symbolic patterns are demonstrably grounded in the articulatory and acoustic natures of particular sounds, we are able to teach some important articulatory and acoustic principles. Finally, statistical analyses of the Pokémon dataset, which emerged from this teaching strategy, help us illustrate some important statistical skills.

doi: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-4

Cite as: Kawahara, S. (2018) Teaching phonetics through sound symbolism. Proc. International Symposium on Applied Phonetics (ISAPh 2018), 19-26, doi: 10.21437/ISAPh.2018-4

  author={Shigeto Kawahara},
  title={{Teaching phonetics through sound symbolism}},
  booktitle={Proc. International Symposium on Applied Phonetics (ISAPh 2018)},