B.A. Work

Some of these ideas were covered in a talk I gave at Nanzan University in November 2017 at Workshop in Mimetics II: New approaches to old questions. You can see those slides here.

From “old” to “new”: An exploration into possible causes for ideophone loss in Zulu and Quechua

For my B.A. dissertation I wanted to explore possible social motivations for the loss of ideophones – highly sensory sound symbolic words.  Looking primarily at how social identity relates to ideophone use, I argued that what languages where ideophones are under threat have in common is a history of European colonization.  As European languages are not rich in ideophones (an example is something like swoooosh, kerplunk or bish-bash-bosh in English), and can’t be described as comprising a separate word class (with the exception of Basque), ideophones can become ideologically “marked”.  There appears to be a particular correlation between “expressivity” and “femininity”.  Social meanings can attach to ideophone use, such as being “rural”, “female” or “old-fashioned” (and further ideological associations drawn from these).  Younger speakers will then choose to limit their ideophone use in order to distance themselves from social stereotypes they see as unappealing.  This interplays with shifts from rural to urban lifestyles, and engagement or access to institutions where European languages are dominant.