Crud, Weird Again

As part of my research into trickster goddesses, I came across the concept of ideasthesia. As the name suggests, it is related to synesthesia. The term came from the observation by some psychologists and neurologists that many instances that were labeled “synesthesia” had a semantic component. In other words, the sensory input (a letter, a color, a number, etc) triggered a context-dependent semantic representation rather than a merely unrelated sensation. There was often an underlying meaning when a person with “synesthesia” perceived red as having the flavor of paprika, or the number “3” as always being maroon. The concept is associated with color-grapheme synesthesia – associating letters with colors. And some other forms of synesthesia.

So I’m reading the Wikipedia entry, and as an example of ideasthesia, the article has the “Bouba/Kiki Effect.”

Take a look and see which one seems like it ought to be called “Bouba” and which one “Kiki.”


I thought the flowery one on the right should be Kiki, and the pointy one Bouba. Apparently, that’s not what most American College Students and speakers of Tamil in India thought. Does this mean I have ideasthesia, or that I don’t have it? Or that I’m just odd? I don’t experience synesthesia, but playing “polysemy” is one of my favorite games. Seems like something a person with ideasthesia would enjoy (along with tequila-soaked walks in the rain, warm kittens, and Kate Hudson movies).

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