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Motivations for Sound Symbolism in Spatial Deixis: A study of 101 languages

Johansson, Niklas LU (2011) ALSK11 20111
General Linguistics
Abstract (Swedish)
This thesis is concerned with the possible existence of a motivated relation between sound and meaning (“sound symbolism”) in demonstrative pronouns. The goal was to search for evidence of such non-arbitrariness, and to gain a better understanding of the motivating factors behind it. Six motivations are considered. Two motivations were based on the senses of Touch and Vision. Two others - on the sense of Hearing, concerning vowels and consonants. Lastly, two concerned “proto-pointing”, based on the senses of touch and vision, respectively.

Demonstrative pronouns belonging to two-way or three-way deictic systems were used through a genetically and areally spread sample consisting of 101 languages. The findings were divided into... (More)
This thesis is concerned with the possible existence of a motivated relation between sound and meaning (“sound symbolism”) in demonstrative pronouns. The goal was to search for evidence of such non-arbitrariness, and to gain a better understanding of the motivating factors behind it. Six motivations are considered. Two motivations were based on the senses of Touch and Vision. Two others - on the sense of Hearing, concerning vowels and consonants. Lastly, two concerned “proto-pointing”, based on the senses of touch and vision, respectively.

Demonstrative pronouns belonging to two-way or three-way deictic systems were used through a genetically and areally spread sample consisting of 101 languages. The findings were divided into motivated (supporting the motivations), non-motivated (not supporting the motivations, arbitrary) and anti-motivated (the reverse of motivated, perhaps functionally).

The results showed support for the Touch, Visual and Hearing–Vowel motivations, most strongly for the latter. This implied that the vowel frequency of the demonstrative pronouns is a potent factor in expressing a sound-symbolic relation, perhaps reinforced by the two other motivations. Functional causes such as faster learning of non-arbitrary words are suggested as the driving force behind the phenomenon. (Less)
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author
Johansson, Niklas LU
supervisor
organization
course
ALSK11 20111
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
sound symbolism, non-arbitrariness, deictic words, demonstrative pronouns, spatial deixis
language
English
id
1974731
date added to LUP
2011-06-21 09:42:50
date last changed
2011-06-21 09:42:50
@misc{1974731,
  abstract     = {This thesis is concerned with the possible existence of a motivated relation between sound and meaning (“sound symbolism”) in demonstrative pronouns. The goal was to search for evidence of such non-arbitrariness, and to gain a better understanding of the motivating factors behind it. Six motivations are considered. Two motivations were based on the senses of Touch and Vision. Two others - on the sense of Hearing, concerning vowels and consonants. Lastly, two concerned “proto-pointing”, based on the senses of touch and vision, respectively. 

Demonstrative pronouns belonging to two-way or three-way deictic systems were used through a genetically and areally spread sample consisting of 101 languages. The findings were divided into motivated (supporting the motivations), non-motivated (not supporting the motivations, arbitrary) and anti-motivated (the reverse of motivated, perhaps functionally). 

The results showed support for the Touch, Visual and Hearing–Vowel motivations, most strongly for the latter. This implied that the vowel frequency of the demonstrative pronouns is a potent factor in expressing a sound-symbolic relation, perhaps reinforced by the two other motivations. Functional causes such as faster learning of non-arbitrary words are suggested as the driving force behind the phenomenon.},
  author       = {Johansson, Niklas},
  keyword      = {sound symbolism,non-arbitrariness,deictic words,demonstrative pronouns,spatial deixis},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Motivations for Sound Symbolism in Spatial Deixis: A study of 101 languages},
  year         = {2011},
}