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Apparently coined by British linguist John Rupert Firth.

Alternative forms[edit]


phonaesthesia (uncountable)

  1. (linguistics) Any correspondence between the sound of a word and its meaning; examples include onomatopoeia and the use of phonaesthemes.
    • 1984, Laurence Picken, Musica Asiatica, Volume 4, page 214,
      For this latter term, phonaesthesia is doubtless at work, since kring is also ‘the sound of a small bell’.
    • 2010, Katie Wales, Northern English in Writing, Raymond Hickey (editor), Varieties of English in Writing: The written word as linguistic evidence, page 74,
      In contrast, writers of bucolic dialogues, like George Meriton, for instance, and lively song-writers like Robert Anderson in Cumberland, seem drawn to expressive lexis, marked by sound patterns of reduplication, alliteration and phonaesthesia.
    • 2011, Prue Goodwin, The Literate Classroom, page 41,
      Phonaesthesia refers to the vaguer phenomenon whereby families of words with shared phonemes sometimes evoke related meanings in a not-quite-echoic manner.
    • 2011, Jean Boase-Beier, A Critical Introduction to Translation Studies, page 11,
      Those in (1.15) illustrate a weaker type of iconicity, generally known as phonaesthesia: the consonant cluster ‘fl’ seems to suggest quick movement, but it is not a direct representation of movement, or speed.

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