- 公益社団法人 日本心理学会
- 心理学研究 (ISSN:00215236)
- vol.78, no.4, pp.424-432, 2007-10-25 (Released:2010-07-16)
Do non-native speakers of the Japanese language understand the symbolic values of Japanese onomatopoeia matching a voiced/unvoiced consonant with a big/small sound made by a big/small object? In three experiments, participants who were native speakers of Japanese, Japanese-learning Chinese, or Chinese without knowledge of the Japanese language were shown two pictures. One picture was of a small object making a small sound, such as a small vase being broken, and the other was of a big object making a big sound, such as a big vase being broken. Participants were presented with two novel onomatopoetic words with voicing contrasts, e.g., /dachan/vs./tachan/, and were told that each word corresponded to one of the two pictures. They were then asked to match the words to the corresponding pictures. Chinese without knowledge of Japanese performed only at chance level, whereas Japanese and Japanese-learning Chinese successfully matched a voiced/unvoiced consonant with a big/small object respectively. The results suggest that the key to understanding the symbolic values of voicing contrasts in Japanese onomatopoeia is some basic knowledge that is intrinsic to the Japanese language.