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Use this forum to suggest Good Words for Professor Beard.


Postby KatyBr » Wed Jun 01, 2005 12:10 am

Level SG/HS, AH
Language English
Topic Meaning
Definition Phonaesthesia occurs when certain sounds become associated with certain meanings, even though they do not attempt to imitate the sound (as in onomatopoeia). For example, it could be argued that <sl> is a phonaesthetic combination of sounds (or phonaestheme) in English in words such slip, slippery, slide, slither, sloppy, slimy, sleazy. The meanings are associated with wetness or greasiness, and gradually take on unpleasant connotations. You could probably add more words to the list (but you could also think of <sl> words, such as slant, which do not share this feature).
Notes 1. Writers such as Charles Dickens sometimes exploit phonaesthesia in the names they give their characters, such as Scrooge. Are there other names of characters in literature which predispose the reader to like or dislike the character? It is also exploited in names for products such as breakfast cereals.

2. Extended examples are given in David Crystal, The English Language (1988).
Compare Phonaesthesia is generally thought to be specific to particular languages. Related languages may exploit the same patterns, but there are also differences. Do any of the phonaesthemes listed below occur with the same meaning in a foreign language you know?
Concept Figures of speech
from here

I think that kerfuffle is so phonaesthetic.

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Postby Apoclima » Wed Jun 01, 2005 4:25 am

Cool word, Katy! You've really been digging around! Great!

A Role for Phonaesthesia in the Emergence of Analytic Processing?

(One often-cited example of phonaesthesia is the English initial gl- in words with meanings suggestive of visibility or luminosity such as glisten, glow, glare, glint, glitter, glimmer, and gleam).

Motivation in the word initial consonant onset.

An example of a language specific sound symbolic item is the NE onset [skw], <squ->, representing the semantic concept 'compression' as in squ-eeze, squ-ash, squ-at (Rhodes and Lawler 1981: 332). Cross-linguistic sound symbolic items are the phones [w], [v], [f] representing the various concepts 'air', 'wind', 'gas' and 'flying', in many languges, often word initially.

So, MdnE cr- is the submorphemic component of the morphemes cr-ouch, cr-eep, cr-inge (Bolinger 1950: 120). The non-arbitrary relationship between the sub-morpheme cr- and the semantic component of the morphemes crouch etc. assigns to cr- the sound symbolic meaning 'bent'. Bolinger and Markell and Hamp (1961: 55) also use the term 'psychomorph' referring to a cognitive and inhherent relation between form and meaning.

Firth, who coined the term 'phonaestheme' (1930), Samuels (1972) and Wales (1990) regard the socio-linguistic development, 'phonetic habit', and history of certain 'phonaesthetic' forms as central to their meaning. Firth regards initial and final phone groups as affectively marked, for example the onset sl-. Sl- is present in words in the Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages many of which have a pejorative sense attached to them (see McCrum 2000): so MdnE slack 'loose; indolent, careless, remiss' from OE; MdnE sl-obber 'behave (e.g. feed) in a slovenly fashion' from ME; and following the Second Sound Shift of the Old High German period [s] > [S], <sch>; G. sch-lampen 'to be sloppy in one's work' from the 14th century.

'Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination.' -Max Planck
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