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Article: Defining iconicity: An articulation-based methodology for explaining the phonological structure of ideophones

TitleDefining iconicity: An articulation-based methodology for explaining the phonological structure of ideophones
Authors
KeywordsIconicity
Ideophones
Phonosemantics
Sound symbolism
Articulatory phonetics
Issue Date2019
PublisherUbiquity Press Ltd. The Journal's web site is located at https://www.glossa-journal.org
Citation
Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2019, v. 4 n. 1, article no. 72, p. 1-40 How to Cite?
AbstractIconicity is when linguistic units are perceived as ‘sounding like what they mean,’ so that phonological structure of an iconic word is what begets its meaning through perceived imitation, rather than an arbitrary semantic link. Fundamental examples are onomatopoeia, e.g., dog’s barking: woof woof (English), wou wou (Cantonese), wan wan (Japanese), hau hau (Polish). Systematicity is often conflated with iconicity because it is also a phenomenon whereby a word begets its meaning from phonological structure, albeit through (arbitrary) statistical relationships, as opposed to perceived imitation. One example is gl- (Germanic languages), where speakers can intuit the meaning ‘light’ via knowledge of similar words, e.g., glisten, glint, glow, gleam, glimmer. This conflation of iconicity and systematicity arises from questions like ‘How can we differentiate or qualify perceived imitation from (arbitrary) statistical relationships?’ So far there is no proposal to answer this question. By drawing observations from the visual modality, this paper mediates ambiguity between iconicity and systematicity in spoken language by proposing a methodology which explains how iconicity is achieved through perceptuo-motor analogies derived from oral articulatory gesture. We propose that universal accessibility of articulatory gestures, and human ability to create (perceptuo-motor) analogy, is what in turn makes iconicity universal and thus easily learnable by speakers regardless of language background, as studies have shown. Conversely, our methodology allows one to argue which words are devoid of iconicity seeing as such words should not be explainable in terms of articulatory gesture. We use ideophones from Chaoyang (Southern Min) to illustrate our methodology.
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/272527
ISSN
ISI Accession Number ID

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorThompson, AL-
dc.contributor.authorDo, Y-
dc.date.accessioned2019-07-20T10:43:59Z-
dc.date.available2019-07-20T10:43:59Z-
dc.date.issued2019-
dc.identifier.citationGlossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2019, v. 4 n. 1, article no. 72, p. 1-40-
dc.identifier.issn2397-1835-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/272527-
dc.description.abstractIconicity is when linguistic units are perceived as ‘sounding like what they mean,’ so that phonological structure of an iconic word is what begets its meaning through perceived imitation, rather than an arbitrary semantic link. Fundamental examples are onomatopoeia, e.g., dog’s barking: woof woof (English), wou wou (Cantonese), wan wan (Japanese), hau hau (Polish). Systematicity is often conflated with iconicity because it is also a phenomenon whereby a word begets its meaning from phonological structure, albeit through (arbitrary) statistical relationships, as opposed to perceived imitation. One example is gl- (Germanic languages), where speakers can intuit the meaning ‘light’ via knowledge of similar words, e.g., glisten, glint, glow, gleam, glimmer. This conflation of iconicity and systematicity arises from questions like ‘How can we differentiate or qualify perceived imitation from (arbitrary) statistical relationships?’ So far there is no proposal to answer this question. By drawing observations from the visual modality, this paper mediates ambiguity between iconicity and systematicity in spoken language by proposing a methodology which explains how iconicity is achieved through perceptuo-motor analogies derived from oral articulatory gesture. We propose that universal accessibility of articulatory gestures, and human ability to create (perceptuo-motor) analogy, is what in turn makes iconicity universal and thus easily learnable by speakers regardless of language background, as studies have shown. Conversely, our methodology allows one to argue which words are devoid of iconicity seeing as such words should not be explainable in terms of articulatory gesture. We use ideophones from Chaoyang (Southern Min) to illustrate our methodology.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherUbiquity Press Ltd. The Journal's web site is located at https://www.glossa-journal.org-
dc.relation.ispartofGlossa: a journal of general linguistics-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subjectIconicity-
dc.subjectIdeophones-
dc.subjectPhonosemantics-
dc.subjectSound symbolism-
dc.subjectArticulatory phonetics-
dc.titleDefining iconicity: An articulation-based methodology for explaining the phonological structure of ideophones-
dc.typeArticle-
dc.identifier.emailDo, Y: youngah@hku.hk-
dc.identifier.authorityDo, Y=rp02160-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5334/gjgl.872-
dc.identifier.hkuros298511-
dc.identifier.volume4-
dc.identifier.issue1-
dc.identifier.spagearticle no. 72, p. 1-
dc.identifier.epagearticle no. 72, p. 40-
dc.identifier.isiWOS:000473319400002-
dc.publisher.placeUnited Kingdom-

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