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Journal Article

Phonosemantic biases found in Leipzig-Jakarta lists of 66 languages


Joo,  Ian
Eurasia3angle, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Joo, I. (2019). Phonosemantic biases found in Leipzig-Jakarta lists of 66 languages. Linguistic Typology, 1-12. doi:10.1515/lingty-2019-0030.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-EBB1-B
Based on the vocabulary of 66 genealogically distinct languages, this study reveals the biased association between phonological features and the 100 lexical meanings of the Leipzig-Jakarta List. Morphemes whose meanings are related to round shapes (‘egg’, ‘navel’, ‘neck’, and ‘knee’) tend to contain phonemes that bear the [+round] feature. Also observable is the positive association between buccal actions and the phonological features they resemble (‘to blow’ with [+labial] and ‘to suck’ with [+delayed release]). Grammatical morphemes related to proximity (‘this’, ‘in’, 1sg and 2sg pronoun) are positively associated with [+nasal]. The phonosemantic patterns found in the most basic vocabulary of spoken languages further confirm that the sound-meaning association in natural languages is not completely arbitrary but may be motivated by human cognitive biases.