User:Jahsonic/The linguistic sign is not arbitrary  

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Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure
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Signified (concept) and signifier (sound-image) as imagined by de Saussure
The Bouba/kiki effect (1929)
The passage in Course in General Linguistics (1916) in which de Saussure says that "the linguistic sign is arbitrary"
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The passage in Course in General Linguistics (1916) in which de Saussure says that "the linguistic sign is arbitrary"

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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At the beginning of the 20th century the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure in his canonical Course in General Linguistics (1916) stated that:

The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary. Since I mean by sign the whole that results from the associating of the signifier with the signified, I can simply say: the linguistic sign is arbitrary. tr. Wade Baskin, source[1]

This statement implies that in the evolution of language, the naming of objects has been arbitrary and not dependent on sound symbolism. De Saussure even denied the significance of sound symbolism in onomatopoeia and interjections.

But the linguistic sign is not arbitrary!

The proof: the Bouba/kiki effect, an instance a universal language ruled by sound symbolism.

In the "Bouba/kiki" experiment, 95% of the informants assigns "kiki" to the angular shape and "bouba" to the curvilinear shape.

Informal research conducted by myself indicates that when informants are asked which of the two shapes is the 'smart' one and which is the 'dumb' one, "kiki" is usually designated as the smart one (remember, sharp in English also means intelligent) and "bouba" the dumb one (likewise, dull means not intelligent).

This means that shapes can be connected both to sounds and to affects.

I was surprised not to see the Bouba/kiki effect in The Search for the Perfect Language (The Making of Europe) by Umberto Eco.

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