Phonaesthemes: non-arbitrariness in the mental lexicon?
For the most part, the sounds of words in a language are arbitrary, given their meanings. But in fact, there are two ways in which words can be non-arbitrary. For one, there can be external reasons why a particular form would go with a given meaning, such as sound symbolism. Second, there are systematicities in languages, where words with similar forms are more likely than chance to have similar meanings. Such systematic form-meaning pairings, as observed in gleam, glow, and glimmer, are known as phonæsthemes. But are these systematicities psychologically real, or do they merely distributional relics of language change? Experimental work, including my own, suggests that these systematic form-meaning pairings are more than distributional facts about a lexicon—they also reflect organizational characteristics of the mental representation of words, their meanings, and their parts. My work also relates to a priming methodology used to test what it is that leads phonæsthemes to be mentally represented, measuring effects of frequency, cue validity, and sound symbolism.
Mots-clés :amorçage, arbitraire du signe, fréquence, phonesthème, phonosymbolisme, représentation mentale
Although unable to meet the deadline for publication, the author has kindly agreed to the above abstract/résumé of his talk at the International Linguistics Symposium on Submorphemics held in Toulouse in October 2011 being published in this issue. Some of the topics he addressed on that occasion are discussed in a work entitled Louder than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning (Basic Books, New York, October 2012).
Benjamin Bergen, « Phonaesthemes: non-arbitrariness in the mental lexicon? », Miranda [Online], 7 | 2012, Online since 09 December 2012, connection on 29 April 2017. URL : http://miranda.revues.org/4261 ; DOI : 10.4000/miranda.4261Top of page
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