Size and shape ideophones in Nembe a phonosemantic analysis.pdf


  • Omen N. Maduka


Nembe, ideophones, alveolars, phonosemantics


In Nembe, ideophones, as in symbolic words in all languages in general, there is direct connection between sounds and the meanings they convey. For Nembe ideophones describing the fields of size and shape. there are peculiar strategies for accomplishing this connection. For size', medial alveolars as well as vowels in the narrow set are used for smallness, while medial velars and vowels in the wide set are used for largeness. For shape, on the other hand, consonant and vowel melodies are used rather than single phonic units. A sequence of three different consonants invariably refers to crooked shape while a sequence of three consonants ending in two identical liquids refers to straight shape, etc. However, this whole neat pattern is complicated 'by the existence of hierarchies of phonosemantic suggestiveness whereby certain phonosemantic units displace others away from their legitimate values, leading to both the ability of otherwise opposing psychomorphs to get into construction and the ability of simultaneous multiple field representation by ideophones.