Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communication Sciences & Disorders


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the patterning of phonetic symbolism of selected vowels and consonants and the effect on that patterning of selected personal attributes of the subjects making the judgements of phonetic symbolism.

Forty parents and forty unmarried college students participated in the study. The subjects were required to complete two experiments involving forced-choice judgements of the phonetic symbolism of nonsense syllables with regard to ten aspects of meaning presented as the following antonymic pairs of words: Hot-Cold, Light-Heavy, Beautiful-Ugly, Quiet- Noisy, High-Low, Large-Smal1, Slow-Fast, Good-Bad, Hard-Soft, and Strong- Weak .

Chi-Square was applied to the frequencies of response data to determine the order of preference for assigning vowels and consonants to antonymic pairs of words and to investigate between-subject differences. The results revealed a preference for the assignment of the vowels /C/, /&/, and I it to antonymic pairs of words. Systematically varying the /kly lurly and iBl as the initial consonant of the nonsense syllables I /SlS/, /SQ.S/, and /S6S/ did alter the assignment of vowels to one-half of the words under investigation. The patterns of phonetic symbolism assigned to the nonsense syllables by mothers and fathers, male and female college students, and parents and college students did not differ significantly.