53: Bouba & Kiki with Maryam Bakht (Part 1)

Behold, the first episode based on drawings, rather than words.  Drawings which I am too embarrassed to reproduce, but which are described herein.  Part 2 will be up next week.

8 thoughts on “53: Bouba & Kiki with Maryam Bakht (Part 1)

  1. To take the conversation to another (lower) level:
    Bouba = rounded image = female = boobie (breast)/baboushka(russian granny)
    Kiki = sharp/pointed image = male = “kiki” (swiss/french slang for penis when spoken about a child) or in “standard” french “zizi”

  2. I think its interesting that there are no morphological descriptors in Bouba or Kiki, like Tri in triangle, that help describe the shape. I think it allows you to take it easy and find words that look like or feel like they describe what you see.

  3. What amazes me most is that it is not 100% of people who agreed with this. It is understandable because we are just making up names and it really makes no sense, but it is hard to fathom guessing the opposite names for the shapes. This study can be compared to people guessing people’s names or after learning someone’s name saying they look like they fit a different name. I guess this can be paired with the idea of that masculinity evokes harder sounding names and femininity with softer sounding names.

  4. For the other 2-5% it would be interesting to find out why they chose the angular one to be bouba and the rounded one to be kiki.
    And building on what John Klemme said about bouba relating to “boobie”. The shape we make with our lips when saying bouba resembles the way babies shape their mouth to breast feed.
    Food for thought!

  5. The connection between human languages is very clear here. It makes me wonder if people who use sign language have similar recognitions of signs across the different sign languages. Would they agree on a symbol that looks more like bouba than kiki? Would the signs mimic the shapes literally or would the signs be more descriptive to the idea of the feeling the shape represents, or would that produce the same result?
    Great Stuff!

  6. Attributing a sort of personality to names and attributing a name to a certain personality seems to have more breadth in language than I was once aware. This can be seen in the way in which these concepts are repeated in children’s tales and literature. For instance, we attribute very shapeless or large and clumsy characteristics to the likes of “Humpty Dumpty” and “Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum”. It would be interesting to learn more about the use of nonsense words with personality types in children’s stories.

  7. There were some very interesting points made during this discussion. However, I was left wondering about those small percentages that did not associate the Bouba with the rounded shape (which may very well be associated with Bouba because of its form and the associations of potential “womanly” attributes; potentially comforting) and those of Kiki (with its sharp edges that may be associated with a weapon and a symbol of masculinity).

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