Defining ideophones

This chapter concerns itself with the nature of ideophones as a phenomenon in human language. It defines ideophones as marked words that depict sensory imagery, a definition that is broad enough to serve as a general cross-linguistic characterization of the phenomenon while leaving room for the details to be spelled out for specific languages. I develop the argument that a fundamental characteristic of the ideophonic phenomenon is depiction, and show how this semiotic characterization throws light on many aspects of ideophony.

Audio clips

Example 2: “Our neighbours, he silenced them kananananananana” (also example 4)

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Example 3: “Now this stuff here, it looks ɖɔbɔrɔɔɔɔɔ [soft]”

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Extract 2.1: Geckos

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Video clips

Extract 2.2: “Words that illuminate matters”

Figure 2.1: Ruben Owiafe’s explanation: “seeing as” as a key feature of ideophones