[Lingtyp] A "Swadesh List" of Ideophone semantic categories

Bernhard Wälchli bernhard at ling.su.se
Fri Mar 22 08:50:18 UTC 2019

Dear Jonanna,

>Since ideophones are prototypically lexicalized as light verb
constructions (or former LVC's as shown by fossilized light verbs as
their verbalizing or conjugation-class morphology)

This is not true for all languages, not for Lithuanian, for instance. Ideophones have very strong extra-linguistic correlates as is well-known in the literature. Ideophones have repeatedly been reported to be used more often in rural varieties than in urban varieties of the same language (e.g., Samarin 2001: 323). Orality, size of the community, the proportion of discourse with familiar people rather than strangers, child-directed speech (Munro 2001: 132–133), attitude toward rural culture (Wälchli 2015) etc. seem to play a very important role. The same language can abound with ideophones or lack them completely depending on the sociolinguistic situation. (Ideophones are maybe the most sociolinguistic part of speech there is.) And then different descriptive traditions in different linguistic areas differ very much in to what extent ideophones have been a topic of interest and what they have been called. I doubt very much whether ideophones are a comparative concept that is applied equally to all languages of the world. Some Africansists seem to hold that ideophones are a special feature of many African languages, but this is perhaps only true of descriptions of languages rather than language use: because ideophones have been paid attention to by Africanists with this particular label.

Munro, Pamela. 2001. Field linguistics. In Mark Aronoff & Janie Rees-Miller (eds.) The handbook
of linguistics, 130–149. Oxford: Blackwell.
Samarin, William J. 2001. Testing hypotheses about African ideophones. In Erhard F. K. Voeltz &
Christa Kilian-Hatz (eds.) Ideophones, 321–337. Amsterdam, Philadelphia:
John Benjamins.
Wälchli, Bernhard. 2015. Ištiktukai “eventives”: the Baltic precursors of ideophones and why they remain unknown in typology. In: Arkadiev, Peter & Holvoet, Axel & Wiemer, Björn (eds.), Contemporary Approaches to Baltic Linguistics, 491-521. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Best wishes,
Bernhard Wälchli
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