There is a way to differently define the acoustic environment

Semiha Yilmazer –

Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, 06800, Turkey

Ela Fasllija, Enkela Alimadhi, Zekiye Şahin, Elif Mercan, Donya Dalirnaghadeh

Popular version of 5aPP9 – A Corpus-based Approach to Define Turkish Soundscape Attributes
Presented at the 184 ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

We hear sound wherever we are, on buses, in streets, in cafeterias, museums, universities, halls, churches, mosques, and so forth. How we describe sound environments (soundscapes) changes according to the different experiences we have throughout our lives. Based on this, we wonder how people delineate sound environments and, thus how they perceive them.

There are reasons to believe there may be variances in how soundscape affective attributes are called in a Turkish context. Considering the historical and cultural differences countries have, we thought that it would be important to assess the sound environment by asking individuals of different ages all over Turkey. For our aim, we used the Corpus-driven approach (CDA), an approach found in Cognitive Linguistics. This allowed us to collect data from laypersons to effectively identify soundscapes based on adjective usage.

In this study, the aim is to discover linguistically and culturally appropriate equivalents of Turkish soundscape attributes. The study involved two phases. In the first phase, an online questionnaire was distributed to native Turkish speakers proficient in English, seeking adjective descriptions of their auditory environment and English-to-Turkish translations. This CDA phase yielded 79 adjectives.

Figure 1 Example public spaces; a library and a restaurant

Examples: audio 1, audio 2

In the second phase, a semantic-scale questionnaire was used to evaluate recordings of different acoustic environments in public spaces. The set of environments comprised seven distinct types of public spaces, including cafes, restaurants, concert halls, masjids, libraries, study areas, and design studios. These recordings were collected at various times of the day to ensure they also contained different crowdedness and specific features. A total of 24 audio recordings were evaluated for validity; each listened to 10 times by different participants. In total, 240 audio clips were randomly assessed, with participants rating 79 adjectives per recording on a five-point Likert scale.

Figure 2 The research process and results

The results of the study were analyzed using a principal component analysis (PCA), which showed that there are two main components of soundscape attributes: Pleasantness and Eventfulness. The components were organized in a two-dimensional model, where each is associated with a main orthogonal axis such as annoying-comfortable and dynamic-uneventful. This circular organization of soundscape attributes is supported by two additional axes, namely chaotic-calm and monotonous-enjoyable. It was also observed that in the Turkish circumplex, the Pleasantness axis was formed by adjectives derived from verbs in a causative form, explaining the emotion the space causes the user to feel. It was discovered that Turkish has a different lexical composition of words compared to many other languages, where several suffixes are added to the root term to impose different meanings. For instance, the translation of tranquilizer in Turkish is sakin-leş (reciprocal suffix) -tir (causative suffix)- ici (adjective suffix).

The study demonstrates how cultural differences impact sound perception and language’s role in expression. Its method extends beyond soundscape research and may benefit other translation projects. Further investigations could probe parallel cultures and undertake cross-cultural analyses.