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from MIND HACKS: If It's Difficult to Pronounce, It Must Be Risky
Thread poster: Vito Smolej

Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:33
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
Feb 9, 2009

... a short-but-sweet study recently published in Psychological Science ... shows that we tend to rate things with difficult to pronounce names as more risky than those with names that we can say more fluently.

Psychologists Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz created names of notional food additives and asked the participants to rate how hazardous they seemed.

Easy to pronounce 'additives' with names like Magnalroxate were consistently rated as less risky than names such as Hnegripitrom

Wanting to see whether the same effect held for risks that could be seen as exciting, they ran a similar experiment but where participants were asked to rate amusement park rides.

Rides with names like Ohanzee were rated as less likely to make you sick than difficult-to-pronounce rides with names like Tsiischili, but were also rated as less adventurous.

The researchers note that their study is in line with previous research on cognitive biases, which has found that we tend to underestimate the risk of familiar things and over-estimate the risk of things we don't know so well.

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121615894/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 15:33
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
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True Feb 10, 2009

That's why I never travel to countries the language of I cannot read: too dangerous. According to forum rules I may not mention any examples.
Regards
Heinrich


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:33
English to Arabic
+ ...
Hmm... Feb 10, 2009

Vito Smolej wrote:

Easy to pronounce 'additives' with names like Magnalroxate were consistently rated as less risky than names such as Hnegripitrom


It's only when you find out that the additive known as "Sunset yellow" can cause allergic reactions such as gastric upset, diarrhoea, vomiting and urticaria that you start getting more wary...

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
That's why I never travel to countries the language of I cannot read: too dangerous. According to forum rules I may not mention any examples.


I don't know of any rules that prevent you from specifying that you can't read Japanese for example...
Or maybe you're saying that some languages look more ominous than others?!! (You don't have to reply if you feel your reply will break forum rules )


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chica nueva
Local time: 00:33
Chinese to English
From another angle, Feb 11, 2009

IMO the marketers and poets would have a field-day with this one.

The respondents only looked at visual cues such as brochures/labels to form their impressions, but on what basis?

It reminds me of 'focus groups'. IMO there are several factors other than 'perceived difficulty of pronunciation' and 'familiarity/foreignness' in the mix: like word associations and the look/sound/feel of the words, for example.

I am a little surprised a project like this would get past a research committee ...

Nice one. Thanks, Vito!

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-02-12 06:37 GMT]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:33
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Feb 12, 2009



Nice one. Thanks, Vito!



You probably have realized that I am just trying to fight the TRADOS morbus. It's endemic here - unfortunately - but it can be controlled and quarantined by careful, merciless intellectual diet.

Regards and I'm looking around for more of the same. All those gazzilions of brain cells trying desperately to stay awake (g)....


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 14:33
English to Croatian
+ ...
NLP Feb 12, 2009

This is an area researched within the NLP ( neuro-linguistic programming).

Each word has a frequency, tone, color, pace, etc... , and therefore different words have different effect on the neurological ( vegetative) system. But they must be put in a certain context to have a certain effect.


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chica nueva
Local time: 00:33
Chinese to English
My personal assessment as a 'consumer' ; merchandisers' taste-test Feb 12, 2009

Hello again Vito

Thank you for your reply. Well then...

My personal assessment as a 'consumer' (of a certain social class, culture, level/type of education, age, gender, personality-type, buying/eating habits etc):

[Food additives:
Magnalroxate ->
at first glance: symmetrical, balanced appearance; nice round letters,
then: Mag'nal/rox'ate. two stresses/accents, prosodically pleasing,
-> looks like an OK food-name, sort of biochemical/organic. Pass.

Hnegripitrom -> at first glance:
spiky, looks like science-fiction, or a drug-name; has 'grip''gripe' in the middle.
Hneg/rip'/i/trom, (I guess) hmm.
-> sounds like a 'ray-machine' or something. No, I wouldn't be too happy eating it.

Fairground rides:
Ohanzee ->
(metrically) long-slow. looks like Yahtzee (a board-game); boring and safe, for families.
Tsiischili ->
short-quick. looks 'exotic', like the name of a foreign dish/city, chilli.
(Tsibili = city-name, maybe in Hungary, or somewhere like that, a little spicy, ...)
starting to feel slightly queazy about here ... , on the other hand,
consonants, 'cha', 'cha' ly, sounds quite good, for a ride. And even adverbial, ... . ]

Kind regards

Lesley

BTW I don't know anything about TRADOS, sorry. Perhaps it's just as well.

[Edited at 2009-02-15 22:58 GMT]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 14:33
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
chemicals have the same kind of coloration/rythm to their names Feb 17, 2009


Magnalroxate ->
at first glance: symmetrical, balanced appearance; nice round letters,
then: Mag'nal/rox'ate. two stresses/accents, prosodically pleasing,

dinitrotoluol - I used to read it as dinitrotrotoluol, it had a more ... explosive sound to it
hidrazin and torazin - combining taste of hydra/torax/razor

Di-μ-oxo-di-n-butylstanniohydroxyborane makes you say "well, can you get to the point, pls..."

of course it's not always fun:
Disodium 4-amino 3-[[4′-[(2,4-diaminophenyl)azo][1,1′-biphenyl]-4-yl]azo]-5-hydroxy-6-(phenylazo)naphtalene-2,7-disulphonate


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Rod Walters  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 21:33
Japanese to English
A rule of thumb Feb 17, 2009

I find, on consideration of this question, names with more than two consonants in a row highly risky sounding, while ones that end in j are particularly unnerving.

Although I believe that if I hadn't been asked to think about it, this invidious and inapposite linguistic-based comparison wouldn't have occurred to me.


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