Sound symbolism or phonosemantics is a branch of linguistics and refers to the idea that vocal sounds have meaning. In particular, sound symbolism is the idea that phonemes carry meaning in and of themselves. Like most other fields of modern research — chemistry, astronomy, mathematics — linguistics, and phonosemantics in particular, finds its beginnings in the mystical and religious literature of the various traditions. The first work that took a more modern, critical approach to the subject was Plato’s Cratylus dialogue. The subject was sporadically discussed in religious and mystical texts throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
- wr shows obliquity or twisting: wry, wrong, wreck, and wrist, “which twists itself and everything else in all directions.”
- br points to a breach, violent and generally loud splitting apart: break, breach, brook.
- cl reflects adherence or retention: cleave, clay, climb, close, “almost all of which come from claudo.” (1;32)
He then went on to argue that in the case of several words at least, the bulk of their semantics could be analyzed down to a combination of their phonesthemes. For example in the word ‘sparkle’, the initial ‘sp-’ indicates dispersion (spit, splash, sprinkle); the medial ‘ar’ represents high-pitched
crackling; the ‘k’ is a sudden interruption; and the final ‘l’, frequent repetition (wiggle, wobble, battle, twiddle, mottle, etc.)
In the 18th century, Mikhail Lomonosov propagated an idiosyncratic theory that words containing the front vowel sounds E, I, Y,U should be used when depicting tender subjects, and those with back vowel sounds O, U, Y — to when describing things that may cause fear («like anger, envy, pain, and sorrow»).
At the present stage of the language system there are many studies showing the fundamental and involuntary motivation of the sign in the language. With the expansion of research on sound symbolism for a long time, there is a need to develop a unified theory generalizes sound symbolism asserting semantic sound and consistent application of the main provisions of the general systems theory to study the connection between sound and its meaning in the word. After reviewing a number of scientific publications: D. K. Zelenin, J. R. Furse, L. S. Bloomfield, L. S. Voronina, T. B. Nazarova and the other authors, we note a definite difference of views on the nature of language phonosemantics. As a rule, scientists recognized the special derivational status phono-stem, which are treated as either a very special kind of phonemes (phonemic combinations), or as a specific kind of morphemes, either as a unit, “intermediate” between phonemes and morphemes, which have characteristics of both. We consider several aspects in order to prove the existence of a direct relationship between phonemes motivated and believe in the words of the name attribute of the object based — denotatum within phonosemantics. Phonosemantics exists at the junction of phonetics (scheduled maintenance) and lexicology (the aggregate of these plans). (3;99)
In this context it is important to pay attention to the relationship with the Assembly of psycholinguistics. Since the object of phonosemantics is considered to be sound symbolism (onomatopoeic) of language system, it is important to emphasize that sound symbolisms are not only those words which are felt today by native speakers as having a phonetically motivated connection between sound and meaning, but all the words in which this relationship in the language evolution was weakened. Let us review one of the important components of phonosemantics is onomatopoeic subsystem.
Onomatopoeia is a natural involuntary phonetically motivated by the connection between words and phonemes relies on sound basis for the nomination (acoustic) denotatum sign. (5;76)
Onomatopoeic words are often motivated by extralinguistic reality and simulators are the usual natural sounds. Thus, onomatopoeia (sound imitation) is what an action-subject, it’s a sign of quality, sometimes the subject itself, reproducing sound, associated with it. For example, words for the sounds of water: babble, blab, flush, gurgle, gush, splash, etc. Among sound symbolising words in most cases, there are verbs, often passing into nouns and interjections: crash, thump, flash, tick, tootles, suck, etc. Semantically, the words are adjacent to certain groups, in accordance with the sound source. Many verbs convey the sounds of a man in the process of communication and the expression of their feelings and emotions: bubble, giggle, grunt, grumble, mummer, titter, whisper, and others. There are the sounds of animals, birds, insects: buzz, cackle, croak, hiss, honk, moo, purr, roar, etc. There are many words that imitate the sound of metal and wooden objects: clink, tinkle, whack, whip, etc. Many researchers have proposed to classify the values the values of onomatopoetic words with a particular combination of letters, causing some association with their pronunciation. Here are some special combinations of English letters and associations caused by their utterance. For example,
Gr- the beginning of the word suggests something unpleasant, miserable, negative: groan (sigh); grumble; grunt; grizzle (snarl, growl), etc.
Cl — in the beginning of a word associated with something sharp, metallic, ringing: click; clank (rattle); clap (hit, slamming); clash (ringing, clang), etc.
Wh — in the beginning of a word often involves the movement of air or something to do with airspace: whistle; whirr (noise, rumble); whizz (whistle); wheeze (breathing heavily, groaning); whiff (blow, blow gently); whir (circle, spinning), etc.
Ckle, ggle, zzle end of a word often associated with light or something, or continuous repeated from time to time: trickle (flowing, oozing, dripping); wriggle (bend, twist); sizzle (hiss); drizzle; draggle and etc.
Modern Russian poet of the early 20th century Velemir Khlebnikov, frequently mentioned by Roman Jakobson. His verse consistent mostly of words of his own invention, something like Joyce’s Finnigan’s Wake. However, he also wrote purely linguistic works outlining the correlations he had observed between Russian phonemes and their meaning. He even produced a list of Russian phonemes followed by a brief semantic characterization of each. For example:
v — the return of one point to another (a circular path)
m — the breaking up of volume into infinitely small parts
s — the departure of points from out of one immovable point
z — the reflection of light from a mirror. (2;98)
Sometimes not all the words correspond to a specific value associated with any sound combination. From the perspective of different levels of analysis of sound combinations can be found overlap among the different words, or, conversely, different. Sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish examples of onomatopoeia from the sound symbolism. Some words fall under both categories. For example, words such as giggle, flash, crack require special consideration.
Knowledge of laws of phonosemantics important to consider when teaching English especially at the initial stage, taking into account communivative-oriented gaming sessions. We know that teachers of different schools successfully use voice warm-up: warmers, breaking-the-ice-exercises, tongue-twisters. These exercises allow you to implement a huge range of language tasks: help to improve memorization of lexical material, using an associative basis, due to the use of situational lexical material on a particular subject, promote formation and improvement of phonetic and phonosemantic skills. The classes on phonetics of English are widely used speech exercises — patter while working on certain sounds or sound combinations. For instance: Don’t trouble troubles until troubles trouble you. (a proverb)
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling,
Spouting and friskling, and whizzing and whisking…
Such an exercise workout, causes difficulties in pronunciation. It is not required to memorize them by heart, it is enough to learn saying correctly, quickly, clearly articulating every syllable.
In conclusion, it should be emphasized that the theoretical and practical study of sound symbolizing system not only allows you to take a fresh look at the linguistic reality of the nature and origin of language and sign language as a whole, and creatively organize the process of learning a foreign language. There exist lots of researches, considerations and viewpoints in the sphere of phonosemantics. But the problem arises there that there is no an integrated rule and idea about the meaning of sounds i. e. phonosemantics that may clarify darkness in this branch and vanish all the doubts that may lead to misunderstanding and confusions.
1. Reference and symbol in Plato's “Cratylus”
2. The Sound Shape of Language by Roman Jakobson and Linda Waugh Euphonics: A Poet's Dictionary of Enchantments by John Mitchell (ISBN 904263 437)
3. Theory of Phonosemantics by Pramod Kumar Agrawal (www.soundmeanings.com) View page ratings
4. Зеленин, Д. К. Магическая функция слов и словесных произведений / Д. К. Зеленин. — М.:1935.
5. Блумфилд, Л. Язык / Л. Блумфилд. — М.: 1968.
6. Воронин, С. В. Основы фоносемантики / С. В. Воронин. — Спт.: 1982.
7. Назарова, Т. Б. Филология и семиотика / Т. Б. Назарова. — М.: 1994.__