Iconicity in the syntax and lexical semantics of sound-symbolic words in Japanese

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This study offers a response to Akita (2013a) who proposes a relation between the lexical semantics of sound-symbolic words and their realizations in a syntactic structure, drawing on a universal lexical hierarchy termed the Lexical Iconicity Hierarchy (LIH). This study examines Akita’s proposal drawing on data from Japanese mimetics. It suggests the LIH-based proposal may be difficult to maintain in its current format on the basis of (i) a frequency count of mimetics entered in a mid-sized mimetic dictionary and (ii) the syntactic characteristics of phonomimes (e.g., bukubuku ‘bubbling’), working within the framework of Role and Reference Grammar.


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