Article published in:Insistent Images
Edited by Elżbieta Tabakowska, Christina Ljungberg and Olga Fischer
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 5] 2007
► pp. 103–110
Is lámatyáve a linguistic heresy?
Iconicity in J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented languages
The aim of this paper is a brief study of iconic effects in the phonology of J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented languages. Tolkien’s notion of lámatyáve or ‘phonetic fitness’ is here explained in reference to Ivan Fónagy’s theory of symbolic vocal gestures – systematic, meaningful distortions of speech sounds that convey emotive messages. By analyzing several samples of Tolkien’s artificial languages, the author proves that effects similar to those that Fónagy describes on phonetic level appear on phonological level in the structure of those languages, most notably in quantitative proportions of particular sounds.
Published online: 14 March 2007
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