A Comparison of Associations to Vowel Sounds by English and Spanish Speakers

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 1988

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Many psycholinguists have studied associations to vowel speech sounds. It appears that associations involving brightness and size are related to the manner in which the vowels are articulated. That is, high front vowels are judged to be bright and small, and low back vowels are judged to be dim and large. In an extension of a study by Greenberg and Jenkins (1966), 40 English-speaking and 40 Spanish-speaking adults rated nine audiotaped vowel sounds on 23 dimensions. The front-back distinction was again found for both groups. In addition, ratings for all nine vowels were similar for the two groups, which has implications for the cross-cultural universality of these associations.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

The American Journal of Psychology, v. 101, n. 1, p. 51-57