Onomatopoeia and Sound Symbolism

  • Ryoko SasamotoEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sound book series (PASTS)


This chapter focuses on the sound-symbolism-based approach, which has been dominant in onomatopoeia research. It is often claimed in sound-symbolism research that there is a systematic or non-arbitrary link between sound and meaning. This view of onomatopoeia presents a particular challenge to de Saussure’s (1916) notion that the link between word, form, and meaning is completely arbitrary. However, it will be argued that the context dependency of onomatopoeia means that what appears to be a systematic link between sound and meaning is a result of humans’ inferential processes. Sound symbolism is a repertoire of links that humans are capable of making between sound and meaning, rather than such links existing independently of the human mind. This leads to the main relevance-theoretic analysis of onomatopoeia presented in Chap.  3.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SALISDublin City University SALISDublinIreland

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