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“Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair”: A Phonoaesthetic Study into the Perceptions of Native English Speakers about Certain Speech Sounds


  • William Perung

Summary, in English

This essay explores four different aesthetic qualities (beautiful, ugly, soothing, irritating) on twoand-
a-half dozen different phones as perceived by native speakers of English. Data were gathered
by way of an online survey gathering 22 responses and which, when combined with several findings
from previous research articles, reveal a number of tendencies both expected and unexpected.
Respondents primarily came from the United Kingdom and the United States, comprising 14 males
and 8 females. Starting from examples in literary fiction and popular media and supporting these
with numerous examples of books and studies corroborating the widespread existence of aesthetic
valuing of phones, this study asks the question whether there exist ugly or beautiful phones (as
perceived by individuals) and which phones would be regarded as such. While the accumulated
responses in this study are far too few to be representative, it is hoped that it will serve as a
springboard for future research into phonoaesthetics.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • phonetics
  • phonology
  • phonoaesthetics
  • phonaesthetics
  • English
  • perceptions
  • ugly
  • beautiful
  • aesthetic
  • phones
  • beautly
  • ugliness
  • language
  • speech
  • sounds


  • Francis Hult (Docent)