PublisherUniversity of Arizona Linguistics Circle
JournalCoyote Papers: Working Papers in Linguistics from A-Z, Studies on Native American Languages, Japanese and Spanish
AbstractJapanese has a great number of onomatopoeic expressions. The frequency of their usage in communication varies from situation to situation. For example, the frequency in casual speech is higher than in formal speech. Also, the usage of onomatopoeic expressions is often found in newspaper headlines, ads, cartoons, and novels. Particularly in these first three cases, onomatopoeic expressions provoke vivid images. The primary motivation for the usage of these expressions is due to this function. The concept which a speaker or a writer has in his mind and intends to convey to a hearer or a reader can be precisely compressed into a single lexical item, that is, an onomatopoeic expression. In our communicative environment, we also find many metaphors, metaphorical expressions, and conceptual metaphors (see Lakoff and Johnson (1980)). Particularly with regard to the purpose of usage or creation, we can see some similarities between onomatopoeia and metaphor. Moreover, if we consider both metaphor and onomatopoeia as "symbolic concepts" in a broad sense, it is plausible to expect the existence of similarities between them. In this paper, I attempt to show how onomatopoeia in Japanese applies to metaphorical extension. This paper consists of three sections. The first section provides mainly background information of onomatopoeia in Japanese, where the classification and semantic function of onomatopoeia will be examined. In the second section, I will postulate a mechanism of comprehension of onomatopoeia based on my assumption that there exist similarities between onomatopoeia and metaphor. Although the postulation of a mechanism of comprehension would vary depending on the particular theory of metaphor, I do not intend to address any theoretical issue related to metaphor in this paper, since I consider the paramount objective here to be strictly the presentation of a pilot study of onomatopoeia in Japanese with regard to metaphorical extention. In the third section, I will present the semantic experiments performed and discuss the results of these experiments.