[Lingtyp] An ideophone for cough?

Guillaume Segerer guillaume.segerer at cnrs.fr
Fri Mar 11 10:38:40 UTC 2022

Dear Raffaele

In the RefLex database (https://reflex.cnrs.fr/Africa/, 1,000+ African 
languages, 1,500,000+ records), only 7 records in 6 languages 
specifically concern coughing AND are labelled as ideophones. They may 
or may not be actual ideophones, depending on the analysis of course ; 
three of them refer to sounds and could probably be labelled as 
onomatopoeia. Interestingly, they all contain some velar sounds :

Mende    (glottocode mend1266, Niger-Congo, Mande, Western - Innes 
1969:56) : *kpávìkpávì* ‘(of coughing) continuously but not loudly’
Kóonzime (glottocode koon1245, Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantu A - 
Beavon 1996:17) : *cwéhɛ̀m* ‘tousser, cracher’
Gevia  (glottocode eviy1235, Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Bantu B - Van der 
Veen & Bodinga 2000:224) : *kɔgu-kɔgu* ‘(tousser) très fort et plusieurs 
fois de suite’
Gevia  (Van der Veen & Bodinga 2000:241) : *kwɛgɛ-kwɛgɛ* ‘faiblement 
Obolo-Andoni (glottocode obol1243, Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Cross River 
- Rowland Oke 2003:322) : *kɔ̀hɔ̂m* ‘noise (of coughing)’
C’lela (glottocode clel1238, Niger-Congo, Benue-Congo, Kainji - Rikoto 
2001:115) : *kɔ̀hɔ́n* ‘sound of hard cough’
Dii (glottocode diii1241, Niger-Congo, Adamawa - Bohnhoff et al. 
2014:134) : *kúūg kúūg* ‘Bruit de tousser’

Note that out of more than 1,500,000 records, more than 15,000 are 
(sometimes erroneously) labelled as ideophones. In other terms, 
ideophones that refer to coughing may be considered VERY rare!


Guillaume Segerer

Le 11/03/2022 à 10:58, Raffaele Simone a écrit :
> Dear all,
> working on a paper on ideophones and their place in grammar and 
> lexicon I happened to wonder how things are concerning cough.
> Romance languages and other which I am familiar with do not seem to 
> have a standard ideophone for it and even less a stable an accepted 
> written version of it.
> Do you know languages that have an ideophone for cough and even more a 
> way of indicating it in writing?
> Thanks,
> Raffaele
> -- 
> ===============
> Emeritus Professor, Università Roma Tre
> Hon C Lund University
> Membre de l'Académie Royale de Belgique
> Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France
> Accademico della Crusca
> ===============
> Attività e pubblicazioni // Activity and publicationshttp://uniroma3.academia.edu/RaffaeleSimone
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*Guillaume Segerer*
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