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Sound physiognomy in language organization, processing and production (410)

What does the sound of language tell us? Do already the basic sublexical elements of sound – the phonemes – possess emotional value providing distinct elements of speech with a certain emotional colour?

The project comprises an interdisciplinary approach at investigating the emotional content of language units below the word level. We postulate a specific emotional value for single units of sound contained in language together with a general mapping of sound to meaning – with regard to emotion – reflected by a non arbitrary assignment of phonemes to words with specific meaning in the general organization of different languages.

To start with, we will concentrate on the English, German and Spanish language making use of relevant preceding work from project "Multilingualism and emotional effects in different languages" (201). In close cooperation with literary scholars, we will try to establish to which extent the above mentioned phenomena are being used in the creation of poetic language in arts.

During the project we will

a) focus on the potential reasons for such correlations between single sounds and emotions taking into account physiological, articulatory and perceptive processes.

b) study their impact on human language perception using methods of experimental psychology and neuroscience (EEG, fMRI).

c) investigate how language production in the arts (poetry, literature and music) makes use of these phenomena in order to increase the emotional impact of a given oeuvre – using computerlinguistic text segmentation, in particular.