The role of sound-symbolic forms in Motion event descriptions
The case of Japanese
This article discusses the role played by sound-symbolic forms (SSFs) in Motion event descriptions, focusing on the case of mimetics — SSFs — in Japanese. An examination of literary texts shows that mimetics occur not only as the secondary element to another Co-event specifying form but also as the sole Co-event specifying element of the clause. As the latter, mimetics express Manner, Concomitance and Concurrent Result, i.e., three out of the eight relations a Co-event can have with the main Motion event (Talmy, 2000). This limited capability suggests that they are not the principal Co-event specifying form of Japanese. Nevertheless, they play an important role in Motion event descriptions as they: (i) supply indispensable lexical semantic information, being laden with rich meanings (e.g., rate in Manner) that parallel Basque movement imitatives (Ibarretxe-Antuñano, 2006); (ii) add nuances to a scene by combining with a diverse range of verbs/predicates, going beyond oft-cited collocational pairs such as yotiyoti aruku [toddling walk] ‘toddle’.
Keywords: aspect, Japanese, Manner, Motion event, verb-framed languages, ideophones, mimetics, sound symbolism
Published online: 15 June 2012
Cited by 11 other publications
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