[Lingtyp] Do expressives have a shared phonosemantic mapping system in East Central Asian languages?

Jess Tauber tetrahedralpt at gmail.com
Fri Sep 11 01:03:10 UTC 2020

I'm currently examining closely the systems of expressives in a variety of
languages from East Central Asia (the old 'Altaic' assemblage, as well as a
couple of relatively nearby families. This involves Korean, Nanai
(Tungusic), Xalxa and Ordos (Mongolian), Japanese, Nivkh, Santali (Munda),
and Kammu (Mon-Khmer). I'm slowly finding common general mappings, even
though the phonological systems aren't identical. For example, in Korean
(using Martin's dictionary), expressives in initial dental stops appears
largely to encode the notion of blunt force used to displace or overwhelm
defenders of abstract territories, as if an attacker was attempting to
become the top dog in a contest. With palatal stop initials, on the other
hand, the set largely codes for dependents, followers, and other voluntary
hangers-on, who might be hoping to join in a hierarchy led by some other
person.  I've seen such mappings in other languages areas as well, but they
are NOT universal. Anyone here know of any prior work along these lines,
looking at these systems as specifying particular configurations within
social physics?

Jess Tauber
tetrahedralpt at gmail.com

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