Saturday, August 12, 2006

In The Beginning Was The Verb

From Yahoo News:

Surprise for Linguists: Nouns and Verbs Sound Different

Sara Goudarzi

Fri Aug 11, 4:45 PM ET

Linguists have long believed that the sound of a word reveals nothing about its meaning, with a few exceptions of words like “buzz” or “beep” that are known as onomatopoeia.

But a new study analyzing the sounds of nouns and verbs challenges that view.

“What we have shown is that the sound of a word can tell us something about how it is used,” said Morten Christiansen, associate professor of psychology at Cornell University. “Specifically, it tells us whether the word is used as a noun or as a verb, and this relationship affects how we process such words.”

However, if you are mouthing a whole bunch of nouns or verbs and listening for a similar sound in each group, you're out of luck.

"It's not a particular sound," Christiansen said. "It's much more subtle than that."

Read the rest here.

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