Sound Symbolism of Contemporary Communication: Croatian Imitative Expressions in Computer-Mediated Discourse

  • Jana JurčevićEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 943)


Generally, sound symbolism has been regarded as a marginal linguistic ocurrence because (traditional/structuralist) linguistic theory presupposes arbitrary link between sound and meaning. Phonemes are perceived as the smallest building blocks of language structure whose value comes from (distinctive) relations with other phonemes. These abstract units do not posses nor carry their own meaning, but trough their distribution they make differences in meaning of more complex language units (e.g. morphemes, words). In contrast, sound symbolism presupposes direct, motivated link between sound (consequently grapheme) and meaning, which is the case with onomatopoeic expressions or imitatives. Led by communicative practice and observation of Croatian online vernacular, we have decided to approach this problem from pragmalinguistic perspective. Starting from everyday language-use, in the context of computer-mediated communication (chat analysis), we have noticed employment of large numbers of imitative expressions with various communicative functions (not exclusively poetic). Main objective of this paper is to point out the importance of a language process (sound symbolism) that has a potential of logically connecting two different systems of human communication and expression (language and music) and shed light on developmental, evolutionary and context-sensitive features of signing activities.


Pragmalinguistics Sociolinguistics Computer-mediated discourse Chat analysis Sound symbolism Croatian vernacular Phonology Etymology Paralanguage Communication evolution 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesUniversity of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

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