Ideophones and sound symbolism in Northern Amis (Austronesian) - Archive ouverte HAL Access content directly
Journal Articles Linguistic Typology at the Crossroads Year : 2024

Ideophones and sound symbolism in Northern Amis (Austronesian)


This is a study of ideophones in Northern Amis, an East Formosan, Austronesian language of Taiwan. Ideophones depict sensory experiences, and they generally have the same phonological and phonotactic properties as other lexemes; however, some ideophones show consonant and vowel alternations denoting grades of intensity or pitch, and a number of ideophones denoting bad smells and tastes are characterized by specific sequences of phonemes. Crucially, beyond their purely depictive function, many ideophones are also used to describe sensory experiences, in which case, they are derived and inflected as verbs, modifiers and nouns; yet, their greater grammatical integration does not necessarily lead to the loss of their ideophonic properties. Rather, these two functions, depiction and description, are better seen as occurring on a continuum between two poles, as in Japanese (Dingemanse & Akita 2017). Only when the depictive function and the pairing of form and sensory depiction are lost do these lexemes become de-ideophonic, generally taking on non-sensorial semantics.
No file

Dates and versions

hal-04612409 , version 1 (14-06-2024)



Isabelle Bril. Ideophones and sound symbolism in Northern Amis (Austronesian). Linguistic Typology at the Crossroads, 2024, 4 (1), pp.289-324. ⟨10.6092/issn.2785-0943/16173⟩. ⟨hal-04612409⟩
5 View
0 Download



Gmail Mastodon Facebook X LinkedIn More