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Be aware: The next article comprises spoilers about “The Mandalorian, Season 2.”
Names have at all times performed an vital function within the Star Wars universe. Names like Chewbacca, Wedge Antilles or Bib Fortuna are all otherworldly, and but one way or the other they sound completely believable. Star Wars names are additionally typically excellent matches for the character. It’s laborious to think about somebody named Jabba the Hutt as a slim athlete, or an individual named Darth Vader giving presents to youngsters on Christmas Eve.
Very just lately, one other identify was added to the Star Wars canon: Grogu. This was revealed to be the identify for the character beforehand solely known as The Youngster or Child Yoda, within the newest Star Wars collection, The Mandalorian. As with something associated to Star Wars, the identify sparked controversy on-line: some folks cherished it, some folks hated it.
This brings up the attention-grabbing query of how a reputation can match a personality in any respect? How can sounds be a great or a foul match for an individual?
That is one thing I’ve studied for a number of years now. The phenomenon of sound symbolism refers back to the discovering that folks will certainly affiliate sure traits to sure sounds. For instance, when given the choices bouba and kiki, roughly 90 per cent of individuals around the globe say bouba is a greater phrase for one thing spherical, and kiki is a greater phrase for one thing spiky.
Nevertheless it goes past form. Folks will affiliate totally different sizes, colors and even personalities to totally different phrases primarily based on their sounds. And, importantly, they will even do that for names.
So what kinds of issues will folks affiliate with a reputation like Grogu? And are they becoming for Child Yoda?
The form and measurement of Grogu
Grogu’s most outstanding options are his spherical head and eyes. Does the identify match his form? Sure! Normally, folks will affiliate voiced stops (pronounced with vibrating vocal cords), like /g/, with spherical issues. Even stronger is the affiliation between rounded vowels, like /o/ and /u/, and spherical issues. One rationalization for this has to do with the rounded form of the lips whereas announcing these vowels.
However we may be much more definitive. In 2018, three different researchers and I carried out a examine by which we had folks make judgments on 8,000 non-words. For instance, we requested if gragwom can be thought-about a great phrase for one thing spherical. Sadly, grogu wasn’t one in all them. However primarily based on all of these responses, we are able to extrapolate that there’s a 70 per cent likelihood an individual would say Grogu is an efficient phrase for one thing spherical.
In one other examine, my co-author and I went past form and requested if some character traits are metaphorically spherical. Certainly, we discovered that traits like easygoingness or introversion have been thought-about “spherical traits,” whereas aggressiveness or harshness have been thought-about “spiky traits.” Importantly, members mentioned that round-sounding names have been higher matches for the spherical traits. So not solely is Grogu a great identify for a spherical individual, but additionally an individual with an easygoing and introverted character.
Nevertheless, it appears that evidently when developing with the identify, measurement mattered not, as a result of Grogu just isn’t a small-sounding phrase. Voiced stops like /g/ are related to bigger sizes, as are vowels pronounced with the tongue towards the again of the mouth — like /o/ or /u/.
One rationalization is that these are developed associations. All of those sounds have a comparatively decrease pitch, which is the sound that bigger animals are likely to make.
Relating to Grogu, our information would really predict a 69.85 per cent likelihood an individual would say Grogu is an efficient phrase for one thing giant.
That being mentioned, you could be left with the sensation that there’s nonetheless one thing baby-like concerning the identify Grogu. Which may come from the /u/ sound on the finish. A number of the first sounds that infants produce are cooing seems like oo and even goo.
The color of Grogu
Color associations are a bit much less simple than form or measurement. There’s proof that again vowels (like /o/ or /u/) are related to darker colors. However there’s much less proof linking sounds with specific hues. What proof there’s would recommend vowels pronounced with the tongue excessive and entrance within the mouth — just like the “ee” sound in See-Threepio (C-3PO) — are literally those related to inexperienced.
Nevertheless it’s value mentioning that phrases for inexperienced in lots of languages may be traced again to phrases associated to crops. For instance, inexperienced traces again to a phrase associated to development. So, whereas it’s admittedly a stretch, there’s something acceptable within the identify for a inexperienced character containing the phrase develop.
Grogu and English
How does Grogu slot in with English phrases? The onset gr- is a phonestheme in English — a sound sequence that tends to happen in phrases with comparable meanings. Particularly, gr- tends to indicate up at first of phrases associated to unpleasantness or complaints, like grim, grumpy or grumble. Not so acceptable for good-natured Grogu!
One other truth is that it’s uncommon for an English phrase to finish with a consonant adopted by the letter “u” — phrases that do are usually borrowed from different languages, like haiku or guru. It’s additionally unusual for North American names to finish in “u.” Of the 1,000 hottest child names for boys within the U.S. in 2019, solely three resulted in “u” — Beau (132nd), Keanu (630th) and Tru (926th). And Beau rhymes with doe, so technically solely Keanu and Tru depend right here. This would possibly really work for Grogu, and assist make the identify really feel extra unfamiliar.
Grogu is a good identify for Child Yoda. It’s a great identify for somebody spherical and easygoing, it ends in a baby-like sound and it has a decidedly non-English spelling.
However what if followers wished one thing just a little extra appropriate? I appeared by way of our 8,000 non-words for one that will be judged a great match for one thing spherical, small and non secular. The most suitable choice? Melion (MEL-EE-UN). I’ll go away it to the feedback part to determine if that’s higher than Grogu, however I believe Melion and The Mandalorian has a pleasant ring to it!
David Sidhu receives funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Analysis Council within the type of a postdoctoral scholarship.