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Elsen, Hilke (28. October 2017): The Two Meanings of Sound Symbolism. In: Open Linguistics, Vol. 3, No. 1: pp. 491-499 [PDF, 223kB]


This article deals with sound symbolism and the ways to interpret sound symbolic phenomena. Sound symbolism appears to be a universal phenomenon but linguists tend to neglect it or offer heterogeneous approaches and definitions. This paper is concerned with the role of motivation, as assumed in cases like cuckoo, and the question whether some sound symbolic effects might be the result of acquired statistical knowledge about the language system. The author argues that several aspects of sound symbolism such as natural/iconic or habitual relationships between sound and (facets of) referents interact but should be considered separately to gain a more realistic insight into the working of sound symbolism.

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