Sounds Like Life: Sound-symbolic Grammar, Performance, and Cognition in Pastaza Quechua

Hardcover | December 1, 1995

byJanis B. Nuckolls

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Sound-symbolism occurs when words resemble the sounds associated with the phenomena they attempt to describe, rather than an arbitrary representation. For example the word raven is arbitrary in that it does not resemble a raven; cuckoo, however, is sound -symbolic in that it resembles thebird's call. In Sounds Like Life, Janis Nuckolls studies the occurrence of sound-symbolic words in Pastaza Quechua (a dialect of Quechua), which is spoken in eastern Ecuador. The use of sound-symbolic words is much more prevalent in Pastaza Quechua than in any other language, and they symbolize a wider range ofsensory perceptions including sounds, rhythms, and visual patterns. Nuckolls uses discourse data from everyday contexts to demonstrate the Quechua speakers' elaborate schematic perceptual structure to describe experience through sound-symbolic language. With words for contact with a surface, openingand closing, falling, sudden realizations, and moving through water and space, Nuckolls finds that sound-symbolism is integral to the Quechua speakers' way of thinking about and expressing their experience of the world.

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From Our Editors

All languages feature sound symbolism, which occurs when the form of a linguistic utterance resembles in some way what it describes or refers to. Onomatopoeic words, such as thump and whack, are a couple of examples from English. For English speakers and other westerners, however, sound symbolism is relegated to whimsical styles of spe...

From the Publisher

Sound-symbolism occurs when words resemble the sounds associated with the phenomena they attempt to describe, rather than an arbitrary representation. For example the word raven is arbitrary in that it does not resemble a raven; cuckoo, however, is sound -symbolic in that it resembles thebird's call. In Sounds Like Life, Janis Nuckol...

Janis B. Nuckolls is at University of Alabama-Birmingham.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:312 pages, 9.57 × 6.38 × 0.98 inPublished:December 1, 1995Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195089855

ISBN - 13:9780195089851

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From Our Editors

All languages feature sound symbolism, which occurs when the form of a linguistic utterance resembles in some way what it describes or refers to. Onomatopoeic words, such as thump and whack, are a couple of examples from English. For English speakers and other westerners, however, sound symbolism is relegated to whimsical styles of speech and writing. In Sounds Like Life, Janis Nuckolls argues that sound symbolism is integrated with the grammar of Pastaza Quechua, a dialect spoken in eastern Ecuador. With data from brief exchanges, sustained dialogues, explanatory accounts, narratives of personal experience, and myths, Nuckolls explores the ways in which abstract grammatical concepts, such as duration and completiveness, are communicated through sound-symbolic images. Moreover, the evidence from sound symbolism's grammatical patterning, its performative foregrounding in multiple contexts of use, and its ability to trigger memories of key life experiences, suggests that for the Pastaza Quechua sound symbolism is more than a style of speaking. It is a style of think

Editorial Reviews

"...[it is] a work that soars high and captures some alluring snapshots of the fascinating interplay between grammatical aspect and sound-symbolic forms in the spoken language performance of a nonliterate culture. It is a stimulating exploration that anyone interested in sound symbolism willhave to consult."--Journal of Anthropological Research