Vocal Imitation and Linguistic Processing of Super Mario Theme Music by Yorùbá Gamers
Samuel Akinbo
November 2022

An aspect of gaming culture among Yoruba millennials is mapping lexical meaning to the music that accompanies the popular video game called Super Mario. The themes of the linguistic interpretations are comparable to those of music texts at traditional Yoruba competitions. Drawing on the Yoruba music tradition, the account in this work is that, to the gamers, the background music of the video game performs a similar function as the music at traditional Yoruba competitions. Semantically, the choice of words in the linguistic interpretation is conditioned by the situational contexts or scenes where the music is heard in the video game. The results of an acoustic analysis show that the choice of words in the linguistic interpretations is also determined by mapping the pitch trajectories of the music melodies to the tones of the gamers' native language. This study suggests that the linguistic processing of music may not only involve phonetic iconicity but contextual inference and social expectation. The interpretive moves clearly point to a strong parallel between sound-meaning mapping in spoken language and music.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006165
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: tone, vocal imitation, music, linguistic processing, video game, yoruba, context, phonology, leitmotif
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