The sound of gender: Inferring the gender of names in a foreign language
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AbstractMuch research on sound symbolism has shown that some aspects of word meaning are linked to phonology. For instance, people tend perceive a name as a female one if it is longer, has stress on a later syllable, or ends with a vowel rather than a consonant. It is yet unclear whether people also use sound-symbolic cues to infer name gender from phonology in a language they do not speak. In three experiments, native speakers of English and German listened to real personal names in Min, a south China language that our participants had not been exposed to, and rated to what extent a name sounded male/female. Compared to real female names, real male names were rated more male-sounding by both English and German speakers in a consistent way. Further exploratory analysis showed that male names in Min, compared to female names, are more likely to have consonant-ending syllables and English- and German-speaking participants happened to make use of this sound-symbolic cue in gender judgement. These results show that people are able to make use of sound-symbolic cues to infer the gender of personal names even in a language they do not speak.
Acceptance Date22/07/2019
All Author(s) ListZhenguang G. Cai, Nan Zhao
Journal nameJournal of Cultural Cognitive Science
Volume Number3
Issue Number1
Pages63 - 73
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
KeywordsSound symbolism, Personal names, Gender, Phonology, Foreign language

Last updated on 2022-19-01 at 01:01