Sound-Color-Symbolic Perception of Poetic Texts by Synesthets

Keywords: synesthesia, synesthet, synesthemia, sound, color, subconscious, symbols of the unconscious.


Introduction. The article is devoted to discussing complex synesthets’ capability of sound-colour-symbol analysis of poetic texts in order to investigate their perception depending on subconsciousness which activity manifests itself in the form of symbolic images of the unconscious (Jung, 1968).

Research methods. Synesthets were offered the text and the recording of R. L. Stivenson’s poem “The Land of Counterpane” in original and variants of its translation by V. Brjusov and О. Mandelstam (the last one with recording). The tasks were as follws: to read aloud or to listen to the poems trying not to take into account meaning of words, to describe the colour of the texts depending on sound/letter frequency and to report us their image-symbol associations based on sound-colour of the texts. These data were analyzed from the point of view of Jung’s depth analytical psychology and psychology of colour.

Results and their discussion. Sound-colour analysis executed by respondents show that their perception of sound frequency differs depending on individual peculiarities of synesthesia. Synesthets’ spontaneous incidental image-symbol associated with sound and colour of the same poems have a tendency to be different in most cases and rarely coincide. Various metaphoric images can have close symbolic meaning determined by poet’s primary motivation with help of phonetic means of language expression. Received data show that synesthets’ perception depends on the language, the text is written in, and emotionality/inemotionality (characteristic feature offered by one respondent) of reader’s manner of reciting in the recording. Image symbols evoked while reading and listening to English and Russian texts can be the same in case the tested person regards the translation more successful.

Conclusion. Image symbols associated by complex synesthts with sound and colour of poetic texts appear in the subconscious on the ground of synesthemia (co-sensation and co-emotion). Sound-colour-symbol perception is determined by individual peculiarities of synesthesia and synesthets’ personal experience.


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How to Cite
Elivanova, M., & Semushina, V. (2020). Sound-Color-Symbolic Perception of Poetic Texts by Synesthets. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 27(2), 137-154.