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Onomatopoeia and iconicity: A comparative study of English and Swedish animal sound
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education.
2008 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 15 points / 22,5 hpStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The aim of this essay is to examine whether language is iconic or arbitrary in the issue of onomatopoeia, i.e. whether animal sounds are represented in the same way in different languages. In addition, I will also look at onomatopoeical words which have been conventionalised, when the meaning broadened and they finally became part of ordinary language.

It can be stated that arbitrary signs have slowly taken over as different languages have developed, but the reason why is a topic for discussion – is there a scientific cause, based on the theory of evolution, or an explanation found in religious myths? Whatever the reason is, it is not likely that iconicity will vanish totally. It is connected to human neurophysiology and an ancient part of language, a natural resemblance between an object and a sign which can exist in different forms. Onomatopoeia is one example of iconic signs, an object named after the sound it produces, and according to one theory conventionalised imitations is actually the origin of language. Nevertheless, there are two main categories – language being either iconic or arbitrary. Regarding onomatopoeia, my results suggest that language is only iconic to a limited extent. English and Swedish have some common representations of animal sounds, but the languages also differ in many ways. Conventionalising seems common in both languages and many of the words in my survey have been incorporated in dictionaries, representing more than only the sound of a certain animal.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. , p. 27
Keywords [en]
Iconicity, onomatopoeia, arbitrariness, sound symbolism
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-1746OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-1746DiVA, id: diva2:5727
Presentation
2008-06-09
Uppsok
humaniora/teologi
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2008-07-11 Created: 2008-07-11 Last updated: 2018-01-12

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
  • Other style
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Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
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  • nn-NB
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  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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