[Lingtyp] Do experimental and typological studies predict each other?

JOO Ian il.y.en.a at outlook.com
Sat Jan 13 12:04:57 UTC 2018

Dear all,

Many experimental studies show that people tend to associate high front vowels with small size and low back vowels with large size (e. g. Shinohara and Kawahara 2010).
Bauer’s (1996) study, on the other hand, show that diminutive and augmentative affixes are not correlated with specific vowels, contrary to what one would expect based on experimental studies.
This leads me to think that experimental and typological studies do not always predict each other. That is, the correlations demonstrated by experiments are not necessarily statistically visible in natural languages, what is statistically significant in natural languages may not be demonstrable through experiments.
What do you think about the predictability between experimental and typological studies? Can you think of any example where there is no predictability, like the case of Bauer (1996)?

Ian Joo


Bauer, Laurie. “No Phonetic Iconicity in Evaluative Morphology.” Studia Linguistica, vol. 50, no. 2, 1996, pp. 189–206.

Shinohara, Kazuko, and Shigeto Kawahara. “A Cross-Linguistic Study of Sound Symbolism: The Images of Size.” Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 36, 2010, pp. 396–410.

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