What’s in a Word? Studies in Phonosemantics by Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus

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Die Konsonante scheinen eine gewisse Konsistenz zu haben, sind hart oder weich, werden sogar in gewissen Fällen als feucht empfunden, der Einsatz eines Sonanten ist fest oder leise resp. weich, manche Engelaute sind schärfer als andere, auch die Silbe kann scharf geschnitten sein. ” Fónagy does not see 'wissenschaftliche Metapher' as having an aesthetic role, but as concerning only the content of the word. In his treatise of 123 pages, he outlines the meanings that have been given phonemes in the grammars of various languages throughout history.

Classification Systems Before I continue on to discuss the tests, I would like to distinguish some different types of classificational systems. I discuss classificational systems in such detail, because the primary form of evidence I use for the Phonosemantic Hypothesis is the possibility of creating a certain kind of classificational scheme for all words which match a given phonological characterization. Consider what must be shown in order to demonstrate that a phoneme has meaning. It must be shown that all words which contain that phoneme have some element of meaning which words not containing that phoneme do not have.

And in my view, these criteria do indeed hold English. Before going on to more detailed tests, I will provide here a small illustrative example of the type of data that concerns us. 3. A Small Scale Example of the Phonosemantic Experiment In attempt not to lose the forest for the trees in our discussion, let me now give a brief overview of the types of tests which will be conducted on a much larger scale in the following chapter. Consider once again /gl/ in initial position. ) One possible Phonosemantic Classification for English monomorphemes beginning with /gl/ might look like this: Reflected or Indirect Light -- glare, gleam, glim, glimmer, glint, glisten, glister, glitter, gloaming, glow Indirect Use of the Eyes -- glance, glaze/d, glimpse, glint Reflecting Surfaces -- glacé, glacier, glair, glare, glass, glaze, gloss Other Light or Sight -- globe, glower Understanding -- glean, glib, glimmer, glimpse Symbols -- gloss, glyph Ease -- glib, glide, glitter, gloss Slip -- glide, glissade Quantities -- glob, globe, glut Acquisition/Stickiness -- glean, glimmer, glue, gluten, glutton Strike -- glance Containers -- gland, glove Joy -- glad, glee, gloat, glory, glow Unhappiness -- gloom, glower, glum Natural Feature -- glade, glen One observes several things initially: * The large majority of these various classes are ordinary cross-phonemic Natural Classes (Light, Sight, Surfaces, Thinking, Symbols, Motion, Quantity, Acquisition, Strike, Containers, Joy, Sorrow, Natural Features).

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What’s in a Word? Studies in Phonosemantics by Margaret Magnus
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