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Wonder why we chose this word to fulfill its purpose.
 
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Wonder why we chose this word to fulfill its purpose.

I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you mean why did we choose the string the instead of, say, decimate?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Yeah, it's more of a question of "I wonder why humans chose that particular arrangement of sound ("thuh") to fulfill the function it does?"
 
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It's related to that, from *to-.
 
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("thuh")

It's not even a requirement in some languages: e.g., Latin, Sanskrit, Russian, and Chinese do without articles, definite or indefinite. Wonder is a winderful thing, but I doubt that the question has an answer.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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I remember some shiny mustachioed professor saying that words are designed using something along the lines of a "parakinesthetic abstraction"; basically that certain kinds of sounds tend to be used for certain kinds of things.

An example he gave was showing the audience a picture of a curvy blob and a shape with sharp angles side by side, and he said "one of these is 'Kiki', the other 'Booba'; which is which?"

I don't think it's terribly beyond the pale to suggest that we know which is which, and the point he was trying to make is that the sounds of words have inherent meaning. I guess I was wondering if that was true do you think, or if there was more to it than that.

I dunno, what do you lot think?
 
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this may be an example of cart before horse; that is, Booba *sounds blobby due to previous exposure to words like blubber, bubba, and.. well.. blob.
 
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I think there are such things as onomatopeia and ideophone, but I think they are language-specific. For instance, Japanese waza waza means "doing something difficult on purpose, even though there is no need to, such as swimming across a river instead of taking the bridge", and uja uja means "many small things gathered together and moving, such as a swarm of insects or a crowd of people seen from a distance". But can English speakers guess which is which?

In general, the connection between sound and meaning is arbitrary.
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Since onomatopoeic sounds vary from language to language, might there be also a learned aspect to even them? That is, we rearrange actually perceived sounds to fit our phonemic toolkit.
 
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Since onomatopoeic sounds vary from language to language, might there be also a learned aspect to even them? That is, we rearrange actually perceived sounds to fit our phonemic toolkit.

I think so, Asa. We do that when we borrow words from other languages: e.g., the difference between the Japanese and English pronunciations of futon, or Spanish and English burrito.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Spanish speaking roosters call, "¡Quiquiriquí!"

[kee-kee-ri-kee]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: jerry thomas,
 
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A pig oinks in Danish øf which is pronounced the same as the French word for egg œuf.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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<texhenge>
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It is common in my area to train your dogs in different languages so they will respond individually; sometimes words have to be modified or substituted if similar sounding.

As President Clinton pointed out regarding a person of proven lingual skill, "it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is."
 
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Concerning onomatopoeia, I once read a book about "how to read aloud" that was written by a voice actor. He said that he treats every word as if it is onomatopoeic. That comment has stuck with me (even though I can't remember the book title or the author's name). It's an interesting thing to think about, as a puppeteer, professional read-aloud-er, and actress, and it changed the way I thought about those aspects of my work.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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quote:
Originally posted by zmježd:
A pig oinks in Danish øf which is pronounced the same as the French word for egg œuf.


Here's a link with lotsa animals, lotsa languages. Seems to me the transcriptions are pretty much the same for most animals, the world over.
 
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the world over

If the world consists of Europe and a few of its (ex-)colonies.


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<texhenge>
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The world, since 1836, has consisted of Texas.
 
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quote:
If the world consists of Europe and a few of its (ex-)colonies.

The link I saw lead to a list of languages, not countries. It includes most of languages of the northern hemisphere (with the notable exception of Chinese - although Japanese is included) I reckon the descriptor "the world over" whilst not being entirely accurate, certainly does not imply that it is only European colonies' languages that are included.

After all, most of Africa was once colonised by European countries, whereas Japan and Russia were not.


Richard English
 
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Now something from the younger crowd:

How about "teh"?
 
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