A Festschrift for Shoichi Watanabe on his 80 th Birthday
Edited By Tetsuji Oda and Hiroyuki Eto
TETSUJI ODA The Sound Symbolism of sc- in Old English Heroic Poetry 55
TETSUJI ODA The Sound Symbolism of sc- in Old English Heroic Poetry 1. Introduction Sound symbolism is a kind of iconic expression to depict various phenomena with human articulated sounds. It is, due to relative closeness to referents, sometimes thought primitive, carried out with less working of intellect, in our linguistic activity. However, this is fallacy because sound symbolism meets the preconditions of a language very well: 1) it consists of articulated sounds; 2) there is an arbitrary relationship between sounds and meanings; 3) novel expres- sions of this sort are to be coined infinitely. Any sound symbolism is made with our articulated sounds, which are able to be spelled out systematically. The arbitrary relation- ship between sounds and meanings is established since the former are attached to ideas for the words to be formed.1 In a language tolerant of sound symbolism like Japanese, in which it often emerges as an adverb, a novel sound symbolic expression is coined one after another. Thus it is clear that sound symbolism is not a specific phenom- enon of our linguistic activity except that we feel something direct in sound symbolism. In other words, sound symbolism is vivid in de- picting a certain idea, whether a user is conscious of that or not. However, a poet, who has a keen consciousness of word choice, may well have made effective use of sound symbolism especially in 1 The discrepancy between real sounds and sounds produced by human beings is expressed best by Otto Jespersen...
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