Imitations of Bells: Acoustical Associations and Stereotypes


  • Rytis Ambrazevičius Kaunas University of Technology



varpai, onomatopėja, fonetinė akustika, balsiai, priebalsiai, dvigarsiai, asociacijos, stereotipai


The study is aimed to envisage the influence of bell acoustics on the phonetics of bell onomatopoeia, in a cross-cultural and creational background. Lithuanian traditional vocal imitations of bells (written texts containing nonsense syllables and notional texts, in various proportions), recordings of bell strokes, and their onomatopoeia (nonsense syllables) are used for the analysis. Two groups of Lithuanian respondents (with slightly different experimental conditions) and a group of Slavic (predominantly Polish) respondents are employed in the imitational experiment. They are asked to write down the nonsense syllables which, as they feel, match the recorded bell strokes the best. The results are collated with the findings of acoustical analysis of bells, the data of Lithuanian traditional imitations of bells, and that of Lithuanian prose: statistics of different phonetic sounds and their combinations is evaluated for the sets of data.

The results show that, in the perception of phonetical associations, acoustical analogies between bell and voice (phonetics) are at work; certain regularities and tendencies of the imitations are envisaged. These tendencies are found generally independent on the national (language) background of the respondents, with some specific exceptions resulting from different phonetic corpora used in the languages. Influence of onomatopoeic stereotypes is discussed (bearing differences in the answers of the two Lithuanian groups: preventing or encouraging usage of non-stereotypical variants, due to the experimental conditions).

Interplay of the acoustical associations, stereotypes, and additional specific rules of lyrics in the creation of the traditional bell imitations (thus making their statistical phonetics intermediate between that of the pure onomatopoeia and prose) is discussed.