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The physical basis for phonological iconicity

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Abstract

This paper examines the physical basis of two types of phonological iconicity from a phonetic viewpoint and attempts to unravel the mechanism of phonological iconicity in its entirety. Many researchers consider the basis of association in indirect phonological iconicity (e.g. high-front vowels being associated with smallness) to be acoustic resonance frequency, size of oral cavity, and kinesthetic sensation. The first two bases appear closely related when examined in the light of the general principle in direct phonological iconicity (e.g. <i>BOW-WOW</i>). The bases both involve the front oral cavity (FOC), the resonance frequency of which is also the key factor in direct phonological iconicity (Masuda 2003; 2005). Therefore FOC may be one of the most influential bases of phonological iconicity.

References

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