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LINGUIST List 16.2171

Fri Jul 15 2005

Diss: Phonology/Typology: Wilson: 'From 'Thump' and ...'

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        1.    Alastair Wilson, From 'Thump' and 'Swish' to 'This' and 'That': Sound symbolism in deictic modifiers


Message 1: From 'Thump' and 'Swish' to 'This' and 'That': Sound symbolism in deictic modifiers
Date: 12-Jul-2005
From: Alastair Wilson <a.wilsonlycos.co.uk>
Subject: From 'Thump' and 'Swish' to 'This' and 'That': Sound symbolism in deictic modifiers


Institution: University of Manchester
Program: Department of German
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Alastair Wilson

Dissertation Title: From 'Thump' and 'Swish' to 'This' and 'That': Sound symbolism in deictic modifiers

Linguistic Field(s): Genetic Classification
                            Phonology
                            Typology

Dissertation Director:
William Croft

Dissertation Abstract:

This paper explores the proposed relationship between the deictic modifer
'this' and /i/ and the deictic modifier 'that' and /a/ or /u/. This
relation is tested by a stratified sample; 'yonder' words, present in fewer
than half of the languages sampled, are considered as part of a wider sound
symbolic relationship. This relationship has been tested before, most
notably by Nancy Woodworth; however, this dissertation tests fifty
languages, stratified in a sample based on Rijkhoff et alia's methodology,
which takes high level language families or family proposals into account.
Adaptions are made to Rijkhoff's methodology of genetic stratification,
based on Greenberg, Ruhlen and Croft. These adaptions cause the Americas to
be under-represented; conversely, Australia and Papua New Guinea are better
represented that they have been in previous samples. The sample is little
affected by availability of data.

The results, which consider all contrastive phonemes rather than comparing
pairs of phonemes, show that the relationship is fairly weak; furthermore,
the inclusion of 'yonder' seems to deny and sound symbolism at work
cross-linguistically. When the sample is well-stratified, it is clear that
the original impetus for this proposed sound symbolism comes from
over-representation of African and - particularly - European languages.





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