Zero conversion and sound symbolism

jess tauber phonosemantics at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Sep 1 05:08:15 UTC 2011

I've been reading pieces on Munda languages including one from a few years ago on whether they had a noun-verb distinction. I've started to wonder whether there is some association (weak or strong as may be) between zero conversion and phonosemantic analyzability. Not every member of every family would be party to this- in fact one of the core requirements might be a shifting of such analyzability from where it might naturally belong, an ideophone class, to a lexical one, or at least a blurring of the lines here. So, some Austronesian, Semitic, Muskogean, Mayan?, Salishan, Wakashan. Others?

Ideophones themselves often get some of their semantic specification from their collocational partners. So is massive zero conversion (or whatever you choose to call it) party to similar or identical (but historically shifted) motivation?

Jess Tauber
goldenratio at

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