Linguistics Senior Research Projects

Document Type

Capstone Project

Submission Date



Sound symbolism, naturalism, crossmodal association, coffee shops, consumer preference, branding, marketing, phonetics, linguistics


This study explores the relationship between sound symbolism and coffee shop names. Specifically, phonetic qualities in coffee shop names have crossmodal associations with other sensory experiences such as taste, sight, sound, and touch. Previous studies show a strong association between product or brand name and consumer preference; therefore, a study of coffee shop names is worthwhile in expanding the corpus of sound symbolism knowledge. A phonetic analysis of top-rated coffee shops in the United States, paired with a survey, shows that a balance of stops and smoother phonemes (fricatives, nasals, laterals, etc.), as well as a mixture of front and back vowels create the ideal name, which often represents a coffee shop that is warm and cozy without being overpowering or stifling. Names can be carefully crafted to create a phonetic effect corollary to any atmosphere the owner would like to initially convey through the name of his/her establishment. This information is useful both for entrepreneurs endeavoring to name a coffee shop and customers looking for a particular type of coffee shop experience.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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