Sound-Color and Phono-Semantic Analysis of Literary Poetic Text by Synesthets

  • Мariya Elivanova Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia, Saint Petersburg, Department of Language and Literary Child Development
Keywords: synesthesia, synesthet, sound-color capability, phono-semantic, sinesthemia, letter, sound, color


The article is concerned with investigating the problem of synesthesia that manifests itself in the fact that stimulation in one sensory-based system or cognitive system that leads to automatic reaction in another one.

This article is the continuation of the research published in the previous one (Еливанова, Семушина, 2017) in which we described statistically significant sound / alphabet letters-color and words-color correlations typical for synesthets. Тhe aim of the next stage was to research synesthets’ capability of sound-color and phono-semantic analysis of a poetic text. Phonosemantics is a Russian branch of linguistic, its subject matter is sounds that create images.

12 synesthets took part in the research at the first stage. We offered them to analyze a piece of poetry “Grasshopper” by V. Hlebnikov (В. Хлебников). We revealed that synesthets have different capabilities of sound-color analysis of a literary poetic text that manifest individual and typological specifics of sound-color capability. 2 (16.7%) of examined respondents who have artistic type of higher nervous function with its high potential color-sound language system are good at intuitive phono-semantic analysis of a poetic text.

Then we offered 3 curated synesthets extracts of poetry by А. Блок, А. Белый and Edgar Allan Poe (in original and in the translation by 3 different Russian poets).

Analysis showed that individual method of synesthets partly coincides with the method of automatical analysis that is based on letter occurrence frequency in a text. Synesthets do not necessarily feel colors of frequent letters / sounds that have not equal meaning for the color perception of words and the text as a whole. 

Synesthesia specifics combined with emotional image reflection of color-sound of analyzed texts let synesthets intuitively decode motivation coded with the help of phonetic means of language in the text by the authors of poems.

In spite of individual variability of synesthetic perception of a text there is phono-semantic general invariability that is caused by imaginative comprehension of sound-color of poetic texts.


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How to Cite
ElivanovaМ. (2018). Sound-Color and Phono-Semantic Analysis of Literary Poetic Text by Synesthets. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 24(2), 47-62.