Poll Response


Margo's Magical Letter Page


This is a poll about attitudes toward sound symbolism or linguistic iconicity. If you reply, your identity will be kept anonymous



Response 11: Yours truly, 4 years in MIT linguistics grad school. 10 years running natural language software business. 4 years freelance phonosemantics. autumn, defend PhD at U of Trondheim.
Response 12: college student, female, English, Some background - Phonetics & Cognitive Science
Response 13: professional linguist, female, Russian
Response 14: college lecturer, male, non-expert in phonosemantics, English
Response 15: Swedish, I'm a charlatan eurythmist poet dancer teacher (in Steiner schools for a decade, now free floating). Expert? No. But yes, in my own way. And as a part of the anthroposophical discipline of Eurythmy back in 1983 - 87, male
Response 16: Portuguese, female, Sevices and linguist student
Response 17: art student, English, non-expert, male
Response 18: student, English, female
Response 19: Slovene, translator, taking a course
Response 20: no information
Response 21: female, customer service, non-expert
Response 22: male, English language teacher with a Masters in applied linguistics
Response 23: female, English, student, non-expert
Response 24: female, English, university linguistics major, briefly
Response 25: female, English, music theorist, non-expert
Response 26: American English, engineer, slightly
Response 27: English, linguist, tech monkey, minimally expert (Japanese mimetic system), male
Response 28: English, female, computer science teacher, not formally, but would like to
Response 29: English, female, , no
Response 30: Chinese, male, student, no
Response 31: Spanish, male, patent examiner, no
Response 32: Japanese, male, French teacher, yes I have
Response 33: English, female, postgraduate linguistic student, no
Response 34: Russian, male, student, just started
Response 35: Portuguese, female, designer, no
Response 36: Pakeha English (New Zealand), male, Alphabetician to be, but housedad and teacher aide at present, all I can find faith to
Response 37: French/English, male, East Asia linguistics, yes
Response 38: Japanese, female, linguist, yes
Response 39: Chinese, female, linguist, yes
Response 40: English - USA, female, university student, no
Response 41: English, female, student, no
Response 42: English, male, psychocromatic analyst, tiny bit - kabala
Response 43: Hindi, male, pastor analyst, no
Response 44:
Response 45: Punjabi, female, student, no
Response 46: Russian, female, linguist, yes
Response 47: Chinese, male, postgraduate, yes
Response 48: English, male, retired engineer / hobby linguist, no
Response 49: English, male, antiquarian bookseller, no
Response 50:
Response 51:
Response 52: English, female, Activity Coordinator, no
Response 53: English, female, scholar, no
Response 54: English, female, student, no
Response 55: English, male, College Instructor (Ph.D. in English lit, stylistics), no
Response 56: English, female, linguistics no
Response 57: English, female, Cognitive Psychologist starting to
Response 58: English, male, Herbal Purveyor no
Response 59: Korean, male, teacher read
Response 60: Spanish, male, Finishing Highschool,
Response 61: English, male, technical writer, no
Response 62: English, female, artist, yes - i am starting a dissertation on it
Response 63: English, male, librarian, Hasn't everyone?
Response 64: English, female, singer, no
Response 65: English, female, homemaker, no
Response 66: English, male, Scientist/engineer (Ph.D.), no
Response 67: English, female, Artist, Writer, yes


First, I'm curious if anybody is willing to offer an off-the-cuff opinion as to what percentage of modern linguists believe in the complete arbitrariness of the sign?

R11: My impression 4 years ago when I started this site was that a handful of linguists in the world admitted some level of iconicity, but that 98% believed the sign to be completely arbitrary. Now it seems to me either my impressions have changed or opinion is changing. I'd say more like 90% of linguistics believe the sign to be completely arbitrary.
R12: 60%
R14: dunno, most, it seems.
R15: Way too many, I fear...
R16: 60%
R17: 60%
R18:10%
R24:85%
R25: 70%
R26:99%
R28: What sign? Word is a sign for out time....yes IT is.
R31: Possibly about 50%?
R32: 99%
R36: 99.9%?
R37: 98%
R39: 60%
R42: 30%
R46: 20%
R47: 85%
R48: 5%
R49: 90%
R50: 80%
R51: 76%
R52: 65%
R55: 85-90%
R56: 75%
R57: 85%
R60: I'm not a linguist but for me NOTHING is arbitrary
R61: 75%
R62: 85%
R63: I'll guess 75% - dumbasses
R67: 60%


Mark all that apply:

A. PERVASIVENESS OF PHONOSEMANTICS ACROSS LANGUAGES

A1. All word meanings in all languages are completely arbitrary.
R18, R26, R30, R41, R44, R45, R53, R58, R64

A2. All word meanings in some languages are completely arbitrary.
R12, R19, R21, R23, R30, R41, R43, R54, R59, R65

A3. All word meanings in no languages are completely arbitrary.
R11, R14, R15, R16, R17, R22, R24, R25, R27, R28, R29, R30, R34, R35, R36, R38, R39, R40, R41, R46, R47, R48, R49, R50, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67


A4. All word meanings in all languages can be completely predicted by their form.
R15, R18, R41, R45, R58

A5. All word meanings in some languages can be completely predicted by their form.
R14, R17, R19, R23, R29, R30, R34, R37, R53, R59, R65

A6. All word meanings in no languages can be completely predicted by their form.
R11, R12, R16, R21, R22, R24, R25, R26, R27, R28, R30, R32, R35, R36, R38, R40, R43, R46, R48, R49, R50, R51, R52, R54, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67


A7. All word meanings in all languages can be partially but not completely predicted by their form.
R11, R13, R15, R18, R21, R26, R34, R35, R36, R37, R40, R45, R51, R58, R60, R63, R66

A8. All word meanings in some languages can be partially but not completely predicted by their form.
R12, R14, R17, R19, R23, R52, R54, R56, R59

A9. All word meanings in no languages can be partially but not completely predicted by their form.
R16, R22, R24, R25, R27, R28, R32, R43, R46, R48, R49, R50, R55, R57, R75, R62, R65, R67


A10. Some (but not all) word meanings in all languages are completely arbitrary.
R13, R16, R18, R22, R24, R25, R26, R27, R30, R31, R32, R35, R36, R37, R38, R40, R42, R45, R46, R49, R50, R55, R56, R58, R75, R62, R66

A11. Some (but not all) word meanings in some languages are completely arbitrary.
R12, R14, R17, R21, R48, R52, R54, R57, R59

A12. Some (but not all) word meanings in no languages are completely arbitrary.
R11, R23, R28, R34, R43, R47, R51, R60, R63, R67


A13. Some (but not all) word meanings in all languages can be completely predicted by their form.
R13, R14, R18, R26, R31, R35, R36, R42, R45, R46, R51, R54, R58, R60, R75, R62, R64, R67

A14. Some (but not all) word meanings in some languages can be completely predicted by their form.
R12, R16, R22, R23, R24, R25, R27, R30, R34, R37, R40, R43, R47, R48, R49, R50, R52, R55, R56, R57, R59


A15. Some (but not all) word meanings in all languages can be partially but not completely predicted by their form.
R13, R14, R15, R17, R18, R23, R24, R25, R27, R30, R31, R32, R34, R35, R36, R37, R39, R45, R46, R47, R48, R49, R51, R54, R55, R57, R58, R60, R75, R63, R66, R67

A16. Some (but not all) word meanings in some languages can be partially but not completely predicted by their form. (Whew!)
R12, R16, R22, R26, R28, R38, R40, R43, R50, R52, R56, R62


A17. In some languages no word meanings are completely arbitrary.
R15, R17, R18, R28, R34, R35, R36, R37, R40, R45, R54, R58, R67

A18. In some languages no word meanings can be completely predicted by their form.
R12, R13, R14, R16, R22, R23, R24, R25, R50, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R75, R66

A19. In some languages no word meanings can be partially predicted by their form., R62
R30, R40, R43, R48




A20. In all languages, very few word meanings are affected by their form
R16, R18, R24, R27, R41, R45, R55, R58

A21. In all languages, a considerable number of word meanings, but less than 50% are affected by their form
R12, R13, R20, R23, R25, R31, R32, R42, R46, R50, R51, R56, R75, R66

A22. In all languages, more than 50% of word meanings are affected by their form
R22, R26, R30, R37, R57, R60, R67

A23. In all languages, all but a very few word meanings are affected by their form
R14, R34, R35, R36, R43, R49, R52

A24. In all languages, all word meanings are affected by their form
R11, R15, R17, R34, R48, R63


A25. In most languages, very few word meanings are affected by their form
R16, R18, R24, R30, R41, R45, R55

A26. In most languages, a considerable number of word meanings, but less than 50% are affected by their form
R12, R25, R27, R32, R40, R46, R50, R51, R75, R66

A27. In most languages, more than 50% of word meanings are affected by their form
R13, R14, R22, R23, R26, R37, R56, R57, R60

A28. In most languages, all but a very few word meanings are affected by their form
R28, R33, R35, R36, R43, R49, R52, R54, R67

A29. In most languages, all word meanings are affected by their form
R17, R48, R62, R63


A30. In a few languages, very few word meanings are affected by their form
R16, R18, R24, R27, R35, R40, R45, R54, R66

A31. In a few languages, a considerable number of word meanings, but less than 50% are affected by their form
R22, R24, R27, R30, R43, R50, R51, R55, R75, R66

A32. In a few languages, more than 50% of word meanings are affected by their form
R13, R14, R17, R24, R26, R27, R46, R48, R49, R57, R66

A33. In a few languages, all but a very few word meanings are affected by their form
R12, R23, R25, R27, R28, R33, R36, R40, R52, R66, R67

A34. In a few languages, all word meanings are affected by their form
R40, R56

********

B. REASON FOR PHONOSEMANTIC EFFECTS

B1. Sound affects meaning in onomatopoeic words, in words which refer to sounds themselves or which refer to things which make sounds. The phonetics of these words resembles the sound of the referent.
R11, R13, R15, R17, R22, R24, R25, R26, R27, R31, R34, R36, R37, R40, R42, R45, R46, R48, R50, R52, R55, R56, R60, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67

B2. Early languages were more iconic. As language evolves, it becomes increasingly abstracted from its form. Therefore those languages which have changed less over time are more iconic.
R12, R13, R15, R25, R27, R34, R36, R37, R40, R43, R46, R50, R51, R52, R56, R60, R75, R62, R66

B3. There is a natural process in human psychology which conspires to associate with any form a coherent meaning. Therefore there is a tendency (for example in a language learner) to try to ascribe a single coherent meaning to a word and a morpheme with the result that words and morphemes are said to have 'meanings'. This process (I'll call it Semantic Association) also applies on the lower level of the sub-morpheme (partial syllables -- to onsets and rhymes, say, as described by e.g. Bolinger, Rhodes, Lawler, McCune).
R11, R12, R13, R14, R18, R23, R24, R25, R27, R28, R30, R34, R35, R36, R37, R40, R45, R46, R48, R49, R50, R51, R52, R54, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R67

B3.1 Submorphemes do have a meaning
R11, R13, R14, R16, R18, R28, R34, R35, R36, R49, R63

B3.2 Submorphemes can have a meaning
R12, R22, R23, R24, R25, R26, R27, R30, R32, R37, R40, R43, R46, R48, R50, R51, R52, R54, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R66, R67

B4. Semantic Association applies also on the level as low as the phoneme.
R11, R14, R24, R25, R27, R36, R37, R45, R46, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R67

B4.1 Phonemes do have a meaning
R11, R13, R23, R28, R32, R34, R35, R36, R49, R54, R63

B4.2 Phonemes can have a meaning
R14, R22, R24, R25, R26, R27, R37, R43, R46, R48, R50, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67

B5. Semantic Association applies as low as the phonetic feature (i.e. labials or stops have some common element of meaning).
R11, R12, R13, R14, R24, R25, R28, R36, R37, R45, R46, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R67

B5.1 Phonetic features do have a meaning
R11, R12, R13, R15, R23, R28, R34, R35, R36, R49, R52, R63

B5.2 Phonetic feature can have a meaning
R14, R24, R25, R32, R37, R43, R46, R48, R50, R51, R55, R56, R57, R60, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67

B6. The level on which Phonosemantic Association applies is language-dependent.
R12, R13, R14, R16, R25, R26, R27, R28, R30, R31, R34, R36, R46, R48, R49, R51, R55, R56, R75, R62, R63, R66, R67

B7. The level on which Phonosemantic Association applies is dependent on the word.
R22, R23, R25, R27, R28, R32, R34, R37, R40, R48, R50, R51, R52, R55, R57, R63, R66

B8. Phonosemantic effects are truly iconic. I am thinking now of something like what Plato describes in the Cratylus, where things in the world to which words refer have an 'essence' and the sound meanings somehow synesthetically reflect that essence. It need not be that this synesthetic association be 'right' or 'wrong' like Plato thought. It can be like Nodier thought in his later years that there's an interpretive element to this synesthetic correspondence... in other words, different people or cultures and 'feel' this essence differently and hence express it differently.
R11, R13, R14, R15, R16, R22, R28, R34, R35, R36, R40, R48, R52, R56, R60, R75, R62, R66, R67

*******

C. GRAMMAR OF PHONOSEMANTICS

C1. Phonosemantics is actually in the grammar (langue) or implicit in the meaning of the word regardless of how it is used.
R11, R13, R14, R15, R23, R25, R32, R36, R45, R46, R75, R67

C2. Phonosemantics is more prevalent in certain forms of speech (such as poetry) than in others.
R11, R12, R13, R14, R15, R16, R22, R24, R25, R26, R27, R30, R36, R40, R46, R48, R50, R51, R60, R75, R66, R67

C3. Both C1 and C2 hold.
R11, R13, R14, R15, R25, R28, R34, R35, R36, R37, R46, R49, R52, R56, R75, R62, R67

C4. The extent to which C1 and C2 hold is language-dependent.
R12, R13, R16, R18, R27, R28, R31, R34, R36, R40, R49, R55, R56, R75, R66, R67

C5. The extent to which C1 and C2 hold is dependent on the word.
R22, R25, R27, R28, R32, R34, R35, R50, R52, R55, R57, R63, R66

C6. The semantics of a word is analyzable into discrete identifiable components, such as a denotative or referential vs. a connotative -- some of these are arbirarily associated with a phonetic/phonological form and some are not.
R11, R14, R24, R25, R28, R34, R37, R46, R48, R50, R60, R66

C7. The semantics of a word cannot be cleanly enough analyzed into discrete components that it makes sense to talk of some components being arbitrary and others not.
R15, R16, R26, R27, R34, R36, R40, R49, R51, R62, R63, R67

*********

D. NATURALISM AND CONVENTIONALISM

D1. There is some correlation between the phonological form of words and their semantics, but that correlation is 'conventional'. That is, Sapir, for example, believed there to be a correlation between sound and meaning, but he believed that that was only due to a tendency to give words with similar sounds similar meanings. So if the basic word for 'house' in some language starts with /h/, then other words for dwellings are likely to start with /h/ as well, but whether or not 'house' starts with /h/ is arbitrary.
R11, R22, R23, R24, R26, R27, R28, R30, R31, R34, R37, R38, R75

D2. The correlation between the form of a word and its semantics is 'natural' or perhaps synesthetic. So there is some aspect of the meaning of /m/ or /l/ which will be universal (cross-linguistically).
R11, R12, R13, R15, R22, R24, R32, R34, R35, R36, R37, R40, R46, R48, R49, R50, R60, R67

D3. The 'natural' vs. 'conventional' distinction is language-dependent. In some languages phonosemantics is natural, in others conventional.
R12, R13, R14, R16, R18, R23, R24, R31, R34, R36, R37, R40, R56, R57, R75, R67

D4. The 'natural' vs. 'conventional' distinction is dependent on the word. For some words phonosemantics is natural, in others conventional.
R22, R28, R32, R34, R36, R37, R40, R50, R75, R66, R67

D5. The correlation between the form of a word and its semantics is partially 'natural' and partially 'conventional'.
R11, R12, R16, R25, R27, R31, R34, R36, R37, R40, R46, R48, R49, R51, R52, R55, R56, R57, R75, R62, R66, R67

D5.1 This is true of all words.
R11, R23, R28, R34, R35, R36, R37, R49, R56

D5.2 This is true of some words.
R12, R13, R16, R22, R25, R26, R27, R40, R46, R48, R50, R51, R52, R55, R60, R75, R67

*********

E. FURTHER COMMENTS

R11: I don't know whether earlier languages were more arbitrary or more iconic, but I do know that the degree to which that is the case is dependent on the extent of the concreteness of reference in early words. Similarly I'm not sure to what extent the iconic or mimetic dimension of language varies cross-linguistically, but I do know that it depends on the extent to which concreteness of reference varies cross-linguistically. I also know that both the truly iconic and the phonosemantic processes are universal psychological tendencies and applies equally to all languages.
R13: I consider that not all the words but a part of them are natural that is there is a connection between the form and the meaning/ But i'm sure on the stage of the language development there were much more words with natural ties. It's not a secret that with the development of the language and human beings language abilities conventional word prevail over natural. But when man only started speaking his simple brains couldn't connect ideas with objects. It was too complicated task for them.
R14: I've probably contradicted myself. I'm no linguist but I'm interested in consonant patterns and the apparent similarity of meaning to be found in words beginning sl- (un-control/slippage?) for example, or gr- (manipulation/ contact of opposite forces?). I'm interested in finding out if it is a feature of all language or just some languages - Indo-European in origin? I think the basis of these submorphemes are to do with Actions in Space and describe forms of action and their relation to that space (in terms of direction, interaction etc.) I first came across the idea in Andrew Goatly's book on Metaphor. Also I've read Lakoff and Johnson and recently David McNeill on Gesture which might also have relevance but so far I'm floundering in partial theories. Found a good site on the net though: http://www.ling.gu.se/~abelin/ny%20inlaga.pdf
R15: As for D5 - the distinction does not hold water at higher temperatures. Convention IS natural! And languages are alive though partially paralyzed by the forms ow written language which we have started to imitate in the spoken language. There ia a couple of books by the linguistic liberal Fredrik Lindquist here in Sweden that point to this (and they are hilarious too - I laughed my guts out while reading them) - they are called "Världens dåligaste språk" and "Jordens smartaste ord". I don't know to which extent you master the subtleties of Swedish (or how much you'd care) but it's good reading. Maybe he doesn't see it himself, but he's tapping in to the living soul of the being of the Swedish language.
R16: A16 (Whew indeed :))
R17: Hi there, I'm just an art student and couldn't really fill all this technical stuff. I'd like to let you know that my interest in all of this actually started through an epitimal experience that shed light on the significance of the forms of letters, numbers, words, etc, intuitively. I had reached a point in simplifying the working of our universe(in a way) that led to an understanding of the structure of script through a deconstruction of it's physical and metaphysical forms. It gets a little complex but has a direct relation to my drawings and my investigation into the gestural form. Just thought it might interest you. I haven't seen your page yet but am excited to find some relations to my own thoughts and theories. Thanks
R22: 1. I'm an English language teacher, with a Masters in Applied Linguistics (Reading, UK, 1980). However, I haven't read much, or even been especially interested in linguistics, since then.
2. I'm not sure that my responses to your questionnaire are completely consistent. Perhaps that's not the point? In many cases - especially towards the end - I really wasn't sure what I thought.
3. I have an anecdote that may be of interest. When I was a child, around the age of six, I think, I occasionally ran into "thinking blocks" which brought on headaches. That is, I'd be puzzling about something, then I'd "get lost" in the complexity of the thought and I'd have an instant headache, accompanied by vivid and unpleasantly confused visual imagery - a jumble of shapes and colours. I had a word for these headaches: "gringlegazers". This, perhaps like your daughter's "smish", was a spontaneously generated word. That is, I didn't consciously invent it; I just began to use it. I remember reaching a stage where I could predict the onset of the headache/imagery experience. It was as if a flashing warning sign would suddenly appear in my mind: GRINGLEGAZER - and I would instantly stop thinking about whatever threatened to precipate the attack in order to avert the headache. (This strategy worked, by the way.)
Of course, this may sound like the beginnings of migraine, although I have no subsequent history of migraine, so I have no way of being sure about it. The period during which I had these "gringlegazers" was probably quite short. I forgot all about them, then rediscovered the word in my early twenties, when I had a one-off repeat experience and the word GRINGLEGAZER popped up in my mind again to warn me to ward off the confusion/headache.
Of course, part of the made-up word 'gringlegazer" is clearly based on "gaze", so it's a word-level coinage. However, I think the "gringle" part may be based on phonological imagery; it seems to indicate the jumbled and dynamic texture of the images I was seeing. (Of course, there is some possible parallelism with "brindled", though I'm not sure that was a word I knew at the age of six.)
R25: Sounds like phonosemanticists occupy the same marginal space as that of musicologists who wish to talk about the affective connotations of musical figures and progressions. That is, we are supposed to be concerned only with their internal relations, and to eschew any outmoded and essentialized correlations, even those that are semantic or conventional. BTW, how would you answer a charge of essentialism?
R26: The discussion of "form of a word" is language dependent. Japanese nouns do not have a variety of forms, very different from Latin nouns.
Also confusing me was the atemporal nature of the discussion. Certain things are true of French, because something else was true of Latin, because something ... Knowing one language enables predictions to be made of another language. The world is not all chaos and contingency, although there is a lot of that going on.
R28: I just learned alot. Phonosemantics....Now I know what subject to study. Twenty years ago, while living on the island of Martha's Vineyard, as far up in the woods as I could get, WORD became a friend of mine. As I dug in my garden, my self was redefined, clarified, and further explained, along with many of the words I also thought I knew. Words are living tools that we buy into, sell, and give away. Before there ever was an alphabet, there was sound, and intonation.
My favorite "knew" word is the one I reserve for my teacher: KnowBody. KnowBody has no need of a body. As the Great Spirit, KnowBody is EveryBody and EveryThing. This is why KnowBody is in part the answer to (times 2) great questions like "When is all war going to end?" KnowBody truly does know.
Prepare to pay KnowMind. I am just about to launch a website, and publish a book online, about the most power-full word in the English language. Please look for word with it: itzallwayzconnected.com
R31: Fascinating website, fascinating stuff. Wish I knew more about linguistics!
R32: I found your page today. I enjoy it very much. I feel I found someone whom I have been looking for.
R34: I consider that not word meanings are affected by their forms (A20-24)but, vice versa, word meanings (both signifier-thought and signified-reference)affect primarily their forms-words, otherwise, they would be irrelevant to anything objective. Language is fully determined by the world of nature and mind, but the form of this determination is more than sophisticated. Language is just a 'symphony'of reality which we never completely consciously understand.
R36: Man, did I pass?? : - ) Thank you for your sublime intelligence.
R37: Dr. Magnus: Hallelilujah!
I have presented several papers on Phonosemantics in Old Chinese over the past three decades, garnering snide comments from colleagues about 'iconicity' and its 'irrelevance'. I have spent about two of those decades working on the development of the distinctive semantic features embodied/represented by the morphemes in Old Chinese, and in the past few years have noted traces of sub-morphemic semantic distinctions. I have tried to defend my position based on the inordinate number of homophonic morphemes in the Chinese language.
I was put onto your project by a colleague of mine [also an 'alien']
I am in the middle of a household move, and so have yet to read your work, but will do so as soon as we land in new surroundings and Internet access. It is great to hear another recognizable 'sound' in the wilderness of linguistics .
R38: It will be better if the word "word" could be defined. Does the "word" mean simple, basic word only ? or also compound word, sffixed word ? Answering is different according to the definition.
R44: esto
R48: I got this from URL http://rubberducky.org/cgi-bin/chomsky.pl
A genuine quotation from the Chomskybot's words of wisdom:
"Of course, the descriptive power of the base component is not to be considered in determining the traditional practice of grammarians."
Now, if "the base component" is language ...
If we focus too much on the components of language, are we in danger of losing sight of the functions of language which give it its unique descriptive power?
My major interest is NLP, specifically passive learning of English by a program where vocabulary acquisition is through contextual cues - all words being cues to their contextual neighbours. The method can be thought of as template-based parsing.
R49: Phonosemantics or some kind of verbal iconicity slaps you in the face when you try to translate from one language to another. Translating "meanings," i.e., staying only at the semantic level, guarantees a lifeless, insipid translation that loss all the musicality of the original (assuming the original had any). I think all translators (there's your "all" again) who try seriously to recreate the effects found in the language from which they are translating soon discover that they must simultaneously attend to sound, sense, and syntax -- not as disparate elements to be separately worked on but as a unity to be recreated using elements available in the language into which they are translating. Sometimes this will require straying more distantly from the strict sense than they would like (when, for example, syntax and sound pretty much carry the sense, as in Swinburne's "Even the weariest river wends its way somewhere safe to sea"), other times it will require stricter adherence to formal semantics and giving up some of the effects of sound & syntax.
R51: Moo
R55: Well, I really don't know, without having more data. But these are my intuitions and prejudices, such as they are. Being a practitioner of stylistics (which to most linguists is a little like practicing voodoo), I'm perhaps more open to the possibility of a fundamental iconicity of phonemes, and certainly some phonemes are iconic, like that famous /i/ = small and /a/ = big example. To claim that all phonemes are iconic, though . . . I need to see it in triplicate in a well-lit room before I buy it. Still, I'm interested in your research and will keep a steady eye on it.
R60: Regarding the ABC color asigning thing, you should do a version of the same thing which works with sounds, because different languages pronounce letters differently and so the color may change. For example, I didn't know if to think the W in English/Spanish or German.
R63: I believe Voloshinov developed some very useful ideas on the relation to sound in sense in his work "Marxism And The Philosophy Of Language." He clearly refutes arbitrariness (we all do - every day!), and essentiallism in favour of word meaning as worked out continously in historical/social uses. Meanings are derived in relation to object/idea, but also in relation to the sounds of other words - Both everyday language use and the OED confirm this. He strongly refuted the idea that words have a "natural" meaning - in fact words frequently contain antithetical meanings - and these words tend to survive longer in use than those lacking in ambiguity.
R66: Not being a linguist, I had to guess a bit about the meaning of some of the questions. Also, I heard you describe your research a couple of days ago - I wonder how I would have answered this beforehand.? For D, I think the "natural"/"conventional" distinction is based not on the word, but on the sound. For instance, I would expect "M" sound words to be universally "motherhood" related tofor reasons arising from the physiology of babies, while I would expect the "H"-house thing to be "cenventional," an accident of history. This is just my guess though, and is a hypothesis that can be tested.
R67: Basically, I suppose, every element of speech has inherent, universal meaning, but the extent to which it displays itself is based on many complicated factors, many of which may never be fully understood.



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