Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Up and Down Metaphor in Speech Sound

From Echoes, the newsletter of the Acoustical Society of America:
Language is largely symbolic, but how we say something can be as important as what we say, according to an article in the 21 July issue of Science Now Daily News. Twenty four college students were asked to describe a dot moving across a screen. The students were told to use one of two sentences: “It is going up” or “It is going down.” The team found that when students described the dots going up, the pitch of their voice was, on average, 6 hertz higher than that of those describing the dot going down. The same thing happened when another 24 students read the sentences from a computer screen, indicating people change the sound of their voice according to directional information contained within words. Listeners readily caught these cues.

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