Gotta Name’em All: an Experimental Study on the Sound Symbolism of Pokémon Names in Brazilian Portuguese

Mahayana C. Godoy, Neemias Silva de Souza Filho, Juliana G.Marques de Souza, Hális A.N. França, Shigeto Kawahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Sound-symbolic patterns which relate to the perception of size were found to motivate the behavior of English and Japanese speakers in the naming of pre- and post-evolution Pokémon. The current study builds from this finding and investigates which sound-symbolic association speakers of Brazilian Portuguese (BP) employ to name Pokémon characters. Results from 3 experiments show that vowel quality, phonological length and voiced obstruents, usually used to signal differences in size, are used to signal differences in evolution; however, the effects of voiced obstruents are not identical to what was previously observed in the behavior of Japanese speakers. We argue that although there is a universal sound symbolism associated with these sounds and the perception of largeness, its manifestation differs cross-linguistically. To the best of our knowledge, this is one the first experimental research to investigate sound symbolism and the perception of size in BP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-740
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct 1


  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Pokémon
  • Sound symbolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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