Product no.: ISBN 9783895863189
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Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano
University of Zaragoza

Sound symbolism studies the motivated relationship between sound and meaning. Although in traditional linguistic theory (Saussure 1916), this relation is assumed to be arbitrary, several studies in this field (Abelin 1999, Hamano 1998, Hinton et al. 1994, Nuckols 1996, Voeltz and Kilian-Hatz 2001a) have shown that there is a non-arbitrary element in the way some meanings are linked to some sounds, as well as some sounds are linked to some meanings. Furthermore, this relation seems to a universal phenomenon; that is, all languages have sound symbolic words in their lexicons; the difference is that some languages are more prone to sound symbolic formations than others.

Basque, a genetically isolated language spoken on both sides of the western Pyrenees, is one of those languages with an important and rich sound symbolic system that covers a wide range of semantic fields such as small creatures, types of activity, weather phenomena, noise-making instruments, physical characteristics, and sexual terms. Despite its crucial role in the language, the study of Basque sound symbolism has been largely neglected in Basque linguistics. There are a few ‘onomatopoeic lists’ in some manuals, but no studies that systematically analyse the formal and functional properties of these elements. This book bridges this gap by offering a detailed analysis of one semantic area of Basque sound symbolism: movement imitatives, i.e. those sound symbolic expressions that are used for the description of motion. This study is organised as follows: First, it starts with a discussion about the status of sound symbolism in linguistic studies (chapter 1), followed by a brief overview of their main formal characteristics (chapter 2). Second, it offers a description of the structure (chapter 3), morpho-syntax (chapter 4) and semantics (chapter 5) of movement imitatives in Basque. Third, it draws some conclusions and points out several research areas that deserve a more thorough analysis in future studies (chapter 6). Finally, it includes an appendix with the corpus of more than 800 movement imitatives used in this work, together with their English translations, and their structural and semantic information.

Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano (PhD Edinburgh, 1999). She is currently a lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Zaragoza, Spain. She was a research fellow at UC Berkeley (1999-2001), the International Computer Science Institute (2000-2001), and the University of Deusto, Spain (2001-2003). She is especially interested in issues related to cross-linguistic polysemy, constructions, semantic change, semantic typology, sound symbolism, metaphor and metonymy, perception, space and motion. She has published articles on these issues in a wide variety of journals (LACUS Forum 1999, Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics 2003-1, Cognitive Linguistics 2004-15, Revista de Lingüística Española 2005, Belgian Journal of Linguistics 2004) and edited books (Metaphor in Cognitive Linguistics, 1999; Relating Events in Narrative, LEA, 2004; Cognitive Linguistics Investigations across Languages, Fields, and Philosophical Boundaries, 2005). The author can be contacted at

ISBN 9783895863189. LINCOM Studies in Basque Linguistics 06. 90pp. 2006.

Browse this category: LINCOM Studies in Basque Linguistics (LSBL)