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Sound symbolism : The role of word sound in meaning

By Jan Olof Svantesson

Abstract

The question whether there is a natural connection between sound and meaning or if they are related only by convention has been debated since antiquity. In linguistics, it is usually taken for granted that 'the linguistic sign is arbitrary,' and exceptions like onomatopoeia have been regarded as marginal phenomena. However, it is becoming more and more clear that motivated relations between sound and meaning are more common and important than has been thought. There is now a large and rapidly growing literature on subjects as ideophones (or expressives), words that describe how a speaker perceives a situation with the senses, and phonaesthemes, units like English gl-, which occur in many words that share a meaning component (in this case 'light': gleam, glitter, etc.). Furthermore, psychological experiments have shown that sound symbolism in one language can be understood by speakers of other languages, suggesting that some kinds of sound symbolism are universal. For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website

Topics: General Language Studies and Linguistics
Publisher: 'Wiley'
Year: 2017
DOI identifier: 10.1002/wcs.1441
OAI identifier: oai:lup.lub.lu.se:48534a31-c5c2-4e06-a9c7-677bcd76349a
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