The way your name or a word rolls off the tongue can have some surprising effects on the judgements we make.

你的名字或某個(gè)詞匯的發(fā)音可能對我們的判斷有意想不到的影響。
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Picture two cartoon characters, one round and the other spiky. Which would you name Bouba, and which one, Kiki? And which do you then think is more outgoing?

想象兩個(gè)卡通人物,一個(gè)圓形,一個(gè)尖形。你會(huì )給哪個(gè)取名為波巴,哪個(gè)為奇奇?另外,你覺(jué)得兩者誰(shuí)更外向?

Perhaps surprisingly, most of you will probably attribute the same name and characteristics to each of the shapes. A growing body of research suggests that people tend to make a range of judgments based on nothing but the sound of a word or name.

也許出乎意料,你們多數人可能賦予每個(gè)形狀同樣的姓名和性格。越來(lái)越多的研究表明,人們傾向于只根據詞匯或名字的發(fā)音而做出各種判斷。

At its most basic, this is known as the bouba-kiki effect, or maluma-takete effect, because of how our minds lix certain sounds and shapes. Across many different languages, people tend to associate the sounds b, m, l and o (as in the made-up words bouba and maluma) with round shapes. The sounds k, t, p and i, as in the nonsense words kiki and takete, are commonly seen as spiky. These associations may be partly rooted in the physical experience of saying and hearing sounds, with some feeling more effortful and abrupt than others.

這種現象本質(zhì)上被稱(chēng)為波巴-奇奇效應,又稱(chēng)為瑪魯瑪-塔科特效應,因為我們的大腦將特定的聲音和形狀相關(guān)聯(lián)。在許多語(yǔ)言中,人們傾向于把b, m, l, o的發(fā)音(正如編造的詞匯波巴和瑪魯瑪)與圓形相關(guān)聯(lián)。

Surprisingly, the bouba-kiki effect even extends into human relationships, and how we imagine the personalities of people we've never met.

意外的是,波巴-奇奇效應還會(huì )影響人際關(guān)系,以及預測素未謀面者的性格。
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Cognitive psychologist David Sidhu at University College London and psycholinguist Penny Pexman at the University of Calgary have found that people perceive certain personal names such as Bob and Molly as round, and others such as Kirk and Kate as spiky. In French, they and a collaborator showed the same effect with the "round" Benoit versus the "spiky" éric. In a separate study, participants pictured people with those names as having metaphorically rounded or spiky personalities.

英國倫敦大學(xué)學(xué)院的認知心理學(xué)家戴維·希杜和心理語(yǔ)言學(xué)家彭妮·佩克斯曼發(fā)現,人們認為某些人名是圓形的,例如鮑勃、莫莉,而某些人名是尖形的,例如柯克、凱特。在法語(yǔ)中,他們與一位合作者發(fā)現了相同的效應,貝努瓦是圓形的,埃里克是尖形的。在另一項研究中,參與者從比喻的角度將持有這些名字的人描述為圓形或尖形性格。

"The basic thing we find is that if you compare these very smooth, soft-sounding names, like Molly, to these harsher-sounding names like Kate, that the smoother-sounding names like Molly get associated with things like being more agreeable, more emotional, more conscientious, whereas the harsher, spikier-sounding names are thought of as being more extroverted," says Sidhu.

“如果我們將聲音圓潤柔和與聲音尖利的名字做比較,例如莫莉與凱特,就會(huì )發(fā)現聲音圓潤的名字莫莉與隨和、情緒化、責任心相關(guān)聯(lián),而聲音尖利的名字凱特與外向性格相關(guān)聯(lián)”,希杜說(shuō)道。

These far-flung associations may originate in how these sounds feel in our mouth, according to Sidhu. "If you think about pronouncing an 'm' versus a 't', for example, that m-sound feels much smoother, and that, by analogy, captures the smoothness of the rounded shape versus the spiky shape." Sounds like 't' and 'k' may feel more energetic, capturing an extroverted, perky, lively quality.

這些廣泛的關(guān)聯(lián)可能源于我們嘴里發(fā)出這些聲音時(shí)的感覺(jué),希杜說(shuō)道?!芭e個(gè)例子,你想一想m和t的發(fā)音,m聽(tīng)起來(lái)更隨和,相當于圓形的圓潤”。t和k的發(fā)音聽(tīng)起來(lái)更有活力,具有外向、易怒、活潑的特點(diǎn)。

And this mouth-feel of the words we use can influence how we experience the world. At any given moment we use an array of subtle cues to pull together information from all our senses, and make judgments and predictions about our environment.

詞匯發(fā)音的感覺(jué)會(huì )影響我們體驗世界的方式。我們任何時(shí)候都在利用微妙的暗示搜集來(lái)自我們所有感官的信息,對我們所處的環(huán)境做出判斷和預測。
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"There's something there about how humans are fundamentally associative," Pexman says. "We want to see patterns in things, we want to find connections between things, and we'll find them even between sounds, and the things those sounds stand for in the world."

“從中可見(jiàn)人類(lèi)關(guān)聯(lián)的本性”,佩克斯曼說(shuō)道?!拔覀兿矚g看到事物的模式,喜歡尋找事物之間的聯(lián)系。我們甚至能在聲音中發(fā)現聯(lián)系,以及那些發(fā)音代表的事物”。

Such associations can help us with important real-life tasks, such as language-learning and guessing the meaning of unfamiliar words. In English, words for round things are often round-sounding, as in blob, balloon, ball, marble. Words like prickly, spiny, sting and perky are spiky both in sound and meaning.

這種關(guān)聯(lián)能幫助我們完成現實(shí)生活中的重要任務(wù),例如語(yǔ)言學(xué)習、猜測陌生詞匯的含義。在英語(yǔ)中,表示圓形物的詞匯通常發(fā)音圓潤,例如:團、氣球、球、玻璃球。有些詞匯在發(fā)音和含義上都有棱角,例如多刺、帶刺、刺、活潑。

Sounds can also indicate size. An i-sound is lixed to smallness, while an o-sound indicates largeness. Some of these lixs exist across thousands of languages, with the i-sound disproportionately popping up in words for "small" around the world.

聲音也能顯示尺寸。i的發(fā)音與小有關(guān),o的發(fā)音與大有關(guān)。某些聯(lián)系在數千種語(yǔ)言中普遍存在,全世界表示“小”的詞匯里多數包含i發(fā)音。

For people learning new words, whether babies, toddlers or adults, these patterns can be very helpful. Toddlers and even babies already match round sounds with round shapes. Parents tend to use sound-shape associations to emphasise the meaning of certain words, such as "teeny tiny". Adults benefit from associations when they learn a new language, finding it easier to guess or remember foreign words when their sound matches their meaning.

對于學(xué)習新詞匯的人來(lái)說(shuō),無(wú)論嬰幼兒還是成年人,這些模式很有幫助。幼兒甚至嬰兒就能夠將圓潤聲音與圓形相關(guān)聯(lián)。父母傾向于使用聲-形關(guān)聯(lián)來(lái)強調特定詞匯的含義,例如“極小的”。成年人學(xué)習新的語(yǔ)言能從關(guān)聯(lián)中受益,如果將單詞發(fā)音與含義相關(guān)聯(lián),就會(huì )覺(jué)得更容易猜測或記憶外語(yǔ)單詞。

Some argue that these intuitive connections between sounds and meaning may even be a leftover from humanity's earliest stages of language evolution, and that human language itself started as a string of such expressive, innately guessable sounds.

有人認為,聲音與含義之間的直覺(jué)式關(guān)聯(lián)可能是人類(lèi)語(yǔ)言進(jìn)化最初階段的殘留物,人類(lèi)語(yǔ)言最開(kāi)始是一連串表意、天生就能猜測的聲音。

When it comes to people's personalities, however, sound is not a reliable guide at all. Sidhu, Pexman and their collaborators tested whether there was a lix between a person's name and their personality, perhaps because the round or spiky sound of the name rubbed off on the wearer. They found no such association.

然而,根據聲音推測人的性格完全不靠譜。希杜、佩克斯曼及其合作者檢驗過(guò)名字與性格之間是否有關(guān)聯(lián),可能因為圓潤或尖利的聲音會(huì )影響到名字使用者。他們并沒(méi)有發(fā)現這種關(guān)聯(lián)。

"People agonize over baby names. It's this expectation that the label matters so much," Pexman says. "Our data would suggest that although that's what we think, if you call the kid Bob, they're not any more likely to end up with one set of personality traits than another."

“人們絞盡腦汁給嬰兒取名,正是這種期待才使名字標簽那么重要”,佩克斯曼說(shuō)道?!拔覀兊臄祿砻鬟@是自以為是,如果給孩子取名叫鮑勃,他們最終形成一套人格特質(zhì)的可能性不會(huì )比另一套大”。

Instead, our reaction to a name probably reveals more about our own prejudices. "It does suggest that we're prepared to read a lot into somebody's name that probably isn't a cue to what that person is actually like," says Pexman.

相反,我們對名字的反應可能暴露了自己的偏見(jiàn)?!皵祿砻魑覀儨蕚鋸娜嗣薪庾x大量信息,但從人名中可能無(wú)法看出一個(gè)人的真面目”,佩克斯曼說(shuō)道。

Preliminary results from an ongoing study by Sidhu, Pexman and collaborators suggest that the sound of a name has less of an impact as we find out more about people. When participants were shown videos of people with supposedly round or spiky names, the names made no difference to their judgment of them.

希杜、佩克斯曼及其合作者正在開(kāi)展一項研究,初步結果顯示隨著(zhù)我們對他人了解的加深,名字發(fā)音產(chǎn)生的影響會(huì )下降。研究人員向參與者展示這些人的視頻,他們被認為擁有圓形或尖形的名字,結果名字沒(méi)有影響到他們的判斷。

"When all you have to go on is the name, like in these studies when you're just shown a name and asked about the personality, then maybe these sounds will play a role," Sidhu says. "But as you start getting more information about the person, then that actual information about the personality is probably going to override these biases."

“如果你只能憑名字做出判斷,正如在這些研究中只知道對方的名字,被問(wèn)及這個(gè)人的性格,這時(shí)名字的發(fā)音可能起到作用”,希杜說(shuō)道?!暗S著(zhù)你獲得對方更多的信息,性格的真實(shí)信息可能戰勝偏見(jiàn)”。

The research feeds into a growing body of evidence that challenges a long-held view in linguistics: that sounds are arbitrary, and have no inherent meaning. Instead, certain sounds have been found to evoke consistent associations not just with shapes and sizes, but even with flavours and textures.

這項研究提供了越來(lái)越多的證據,使語(yǔ)言學(xué)長(cháng)期認同的觀(guān)點(diǎn)面臨挑戰:聲音是隨意的,本身沒(méi)有含義。然而,人們發(fā)現特定聲音能喚起固定關(guān)聯(lián),不只是形狀和尺寸,甚至與味道和質(zhì)感相關(guān)聯(lián)。

Milk chocolate, brie cheese and still water tend to be perceived as bouba/maluma, while crisps, bitter chocolate, mint chocolate and sparkling water are more likely to be experienced as kiki/takete.

人們傾向于把牛奶巧克力、布里奶酪、甚至水視為波巴/瑪魯瑪;而薯片、純苦型巧克力、薄荷巧克力、汽水給人的感覺(jué)很可能是奇奇/塔科特。

According to Suzy Styles, a psycholinguist at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, such sensory associations also reflect our wider physical environment. Sounds like b, m, and o contain lower frequency components, while sounds like k, t, and i contain higher frequency components. Higher frequencies are in turn associated with brightness, smallness and sharpness, not just in human language.

新加坡南洋理工大學(xué)心理語(yǔ)言學(xué)家蘇西·絲黛爾斯表示,這種感官聯(lián)系也反映著(zhù)廣大的物理環(huán)境。b, m, o發(fā)音的頻率分量較低,而k, t, i發(fā)音的頻率分量較高。較高的頻率分量與明亮、微小、尖銳相關(guān)聯(lián),不局限于人類(lèi)語(yǔ)言。

"You could think of a large drum that makes a lower, louder, longer-lasting sound, versus a tiny little toy drum that makes a smaller, high-pitched, shorter-lasting sound. Those are just physical properties of our environment," Styles says. "So it makes sense that a brain that grows up in this environment will coordinate information in those ways."

“你可以想象大鼓發(fā)出的聲音低沉、響亮、悠長(cháng);小巧的玩具鼓發(fā)出的聲音較小、高音、短促。這些就是我們所處環(huán)境的物理特征”,絲黛爾斯說(shuō)道?!耙虼嗽谶@種環(huán)境下形成的大腦以這些方式協(xié)調信息是有道理的”。

As widespread as the bouba-kiki effect is, it can be changed or offset by different factors, such as our own native sound repertoire.

雖然波巴-奇奇效應普遍存在,但這種效應會(huì )被各種因素改變或抵消,例如我們本國的發(fā)音能力。
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Styles and her PhD student Nan Shang tested the bouba-kiki effect with Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin is a tonal language, where the meaning of a word can completely change depending on the tone in which it is said. In English, tone can carry some meaning, for example by signalling a question, but not to the extent it does in Mandarin. The researchers presented English- and Mandarin-speakers with two Mandarin Chinese tones, one high and one falling. The English-speaking participants in the experiment perceived the high tone as spiky, and the falling one as rounded. But Mandarin speakers drew the opposite conclusion, picturing the high tone as rounded, and the falling tone as spiky.

絲黛爾斯及其博士生尚楠使用漢語(yǔ)檢驗了波巴-奇奇效應。漢語(yǔ)是一種聲調語(yǔ)言,詞匯含義根據聲調可能完全發(fā)生改變。在英語(yǔ)中,聲調具有一定含義,比如表達提問(wèn),但不如漢語(yǔ)那么豐富。研究人員讓說(shuō)英語(yǔ)和漢語(yǔ)的人傾聽(tīng)漢語(yǔ)的升調和降調。說(shuō)英語(yǔ)的人在試驗中認為升調尖銳,降調圓潤。但說(shuō)漢語(yǔ)的人得出相反的結論,認為升調圓潤,降調尖銳。

One possible explanation is that if we are unfamiliar with tones in a language, as English-speakers are, then we may mainly hear them as high or low, and form associations based on pitch. But if we are familiar with tones, as Chinese speakers are, we may be able to distinguish finer nuances. In the experiment, the Mandarin speakers heard the high tone as smooth, drawn-out and steady, and therefore, rounded. The falling tone was experienced as abrupt, because it dropped suddenly, making it spiky.

一種可能的解釋是,如果我們不熟悉某種語(yǔ)言的聲調,就像說(shuō)英語(yǔ)的人那樣,那么我們可能主要傾聽(tīng)聲調的高低,并根據聲調來(lái)形成關(guān)聯(lián)。但如果我們熟悉這種語(yǔ)言的聲調,就像說(shuō)漢語(yǔ)的人那樣,也許我們能夠分辨出微妙的差異。在試驗中,說(shuō)漢語(yǔ)的人感覺(jué)升調悅耳、悠長(cháng)、平穩,所以很圓潤。降調令人感覺(jué)生硬,因為聲調是突然下降的,所以很尖銳。

Other studies also found variations in the bouba-kiki pattern. The Himba, a remote community in Northern Namibia who speak the Otjiherero language, judged bouba to be round and kiki to be angular, in line with the general trend. But they found milk chocolate to be spiky-tasting, suggesting that our sensory associations are not universal.

其他研究也表明波巴-奇奇效應存在差異。辛巴是納米比亞北部一個(gè)偏遠社區,當地人說(shuō)的是赫雷羅語(yǔ),他們判斷波巴是圓潤的,奇奇是有棱角的,這符合一般趨勢。但他們覺(jué)得牛奶巧克力的味道刺鼻,這表明我們的感官關(guān)聯(lián)并不一致。

When Styles and the linguist Lauren Gawne tested the bouba-kiki effect on speakers of Syuba, a language in the Himalayas in Nepal, they found no consistent response either way. The Syuba speakers seemed confused by the made-up words, possibly because they did not sound like any actual Syuba words. This made it hard to form any meaningful associations. An analogy would be to play an English speaker the made-up word "ngf", and ask if it is round or spiky. It would probably be difficult to make a meaningful choice.

絲黛爾斯和語(yǔ)言學(xué)家勞倫·高恩檢驗了尼泊爾喜馬拉雅山區休巴語(yǔ)的波巴-奇奇效應,他們在兩方面都沒(méi)得到一致的回答。說(shuō)休巴語(yǔ)的人似乎對編造的詞匯感到困惑,可能因為聽(tīng)起來(lái)不像休巴語(yǔ)中任何真實(shí)的詞匯,難以形成有意義的關(guān)聯(lián)。同樣,讓說(shuō)英語(yǔ)的人傾聽(tīng)編造的詞匯ngf,問(wèn)他們圓潤還是尖銳,可能很難做出有意義的選擇。

"When we hear words that don't align with the word-pattern of our native language, it's often hard to do things with that word," Styles says. "We can't hold it in our short-term memory long enough to make decisions about it."

“如果我們聽(tīng)見(jiàn)的詞匯不符合本國語(yǔ)言的詞形,一般很難對這個(gè)詞做出選擇”,絲黛爾斯說(shuō)道?!拔覀兊亩唐谟洃洘o(wú)法長(cháng)時(shí)間保留詞匯來(lái)做出選擇”。
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Cultural factors are also likely to affect our reactions to the sound of personal names. In English, the sounds k and o are perceived as inherently humorous. English female names are more likely to contain sounds that are perceived as small, such as the i-sound in Emily, and also feature more soft sounds than male names. But in other languages, names can follow a completely different sound pattern.

文化因素也可能影響我們對名字發(fā)音的反應。在英語(yǔ)中,k和o的發(fā)音本身就有幽默感。女性英文名字很可能包含意為嬌小的聲音,例如艾米莉中的i,包含的柔和聲音也多于男性名字。但在其他語(yǔ)言里,名字可能遵循完全不同的聲音模式。

Sidhu hasn't yet tested the name-personality association across different languages, but expects that it would vary. "Your sounds in the language you speak might affect it; which sounds are more common in names might affect it; even cultural things like ideas about personality and which traits are positive versus negative, I can imagine that also playing a role."

希杜沒(méi)有檢驗所有語(yǔ)言的名字-性格關(guān)聯(lián),但猜測存在差異?!澳阏f(shuō)語(yǔ)言的聲音可能有影響;哪些聲音在名字里比較常用可能有影響;我甚至想象得到文化因素也有影響,例如對于性格的觀(guān)念、哪些是積極或消極性格”。

Uncovering these hidden associations holds one important real-life lesson: we probably read too much into other people's names.

揭示這些隱性關(guān)聯(lián)具有重要的現實(shí)生活經(jīng)驗:我們可能過(guò)分解讀別人的名字了。

After all, Sidhu and Pexman found no evidence that Bobs are actually friendlier, or Kirks more extroverted. Their findings may lend weight calls to remove names from important processes altogether, and anonymize CVs or scientific papers under review, to counter unconscious bias. Sidhu supports the idea.

畢竟,希杜和佩克斯曼沒(méi)發(fā)現證據表明鮑勃確實(shí)更友好,柯克的性格更外向。他們的發(fā)現可能使這些呼吁更有說(shuō)服力:完全刪除重要流程里的人名、簡(jiǎn)歷或接受審核的科學(xué)論文保持匿名、從而抵制無(wú)意識偏見(jiàn)。希杜支持這個(gè)觀(guān)點(diǎn)。

"I think that makes a lot of sense," he says. "Whenever someone is being judged, taking away all of these extra things that could bias the judgment is always a good idea."

“我認為這很合理”他說(shuō)道?!盁o(wú)論何時(shí)評價(jià)別人,排除可能造成偏見(jiàn)的額外因素永遠是個(gè)好主意”。