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Open AccessArticle

Semantics Based on the Physical Characteristics of Facial Expressions Used to Produce Japanese Vowels

1
Psychological Process Team, BZP, Robotics Project, RIKEN, 2-2-2 Hikaridai, Seika-cho, Soraku-gun, Kyoto 6190288, Japan
2
Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Education, Hiroshima University, 1-1-1 Kagamiyama, Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima 7398524, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Behav. Sci. 2020, 10(10), 157; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs10100157
Received: 28 August 2020 / Revised: 2 October 2020 / Accepted: 12 October 2020 / Published: 13 October 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Cognition)
Previous studies have reported that verbal sounds are associated—non-arbitrarily—with specific meanings (e.g., sound symbolism and onomatopoeia), including visual forms of information such as facial expressions; however, it remains unclear how mouth shapes used to utter each vowel create our semantic impressions. We asked 81 Japanese participants to evaluate mouth shapes associated with five Japanese vowels by using 10 five-item semantic differential scales. The results reveal that the physical characteristics of the facial expressions (mouth shapes) induced specific evaluations. For example, the mouth shape made to voice the vowel “a” was the one with the biggest, widest, and highest facial components compared to other mouth shapes, and people perceived words containing that vowel sound as bigger. The mouth shapes used to pronounce the vowel “i” were perceived as more likable than the other four vowels. These findings indicate that the mouth shapes producing vowels imply specific meanings. Our study provides clues about the meaning of verbal sounds and what the facial expressions in communication represent to the perceiver. View Full-Text
Keywords: semantic differential scales; facial expressions; sound symbolism; vowels; mouth shape semantic differential scales; facial expressions; sound symbolism; vowels; mouth shape
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MDPI and ACS Style

Namba, S.; Kambara, T. Semantics Based on the Physical Characteristics of Facial Expressions Used to Produce Japanese Vowels. Behav. Sci. 2020, 10, 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs10100157

AMA Style

Namba S, Kambara T. Semantics Based on the Physical Characteristics of Facial Expressions Used to Produce Japanese Vowels. Behavioral Sciences. 2020; 10(10):157. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs10100157

Chicago/Turabian Style

Namba, Shushi; Kambara, Toshimune. 2020. "Semantics Based on the Physical Characteristics of Facial Expressions Used to Produce Japanese Vowels" Behav. Sci. 10, no. 10: 157. https://doi.org/10.3390/bs10100157

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