Onomatopoeic Infinitives and Nouns in EkeGusii: Evidence for imagic and relative iconicity



Mariera, E. O.


Work Unit:

Kisii University, Kenya


Vol.8 No.1 (Serial No.12) 2020






Whether meaning is arbitrary or motivated remains a matter of unsettled linguistic debate. The main purpose of this discussion is to bring to linguistic attention the level of motivation in EkeGusii, a Bantu language of the Niger-Congo family spoken in Kenya, using onomatopoeic infinitives and nouns, and to attest that meaning is considerably iconic. It does not look convenient to classify onomatopes under ideophones. Imagic iconicity plays a central role in the two word classes, though imagic and relative iconicity intersect in cacophonous, reduplicative, and inherently onomatopoeic nouns. In EkeGusii, onomatopes are either explicit or implicit. It becomes clear that onomatopoeia acquires a metaphorical function in certain idiomatic expressions in EkeGusii.

Key Words:

explicit and implicit onomatopoeia, parrot role, reflexive onomatopes, cacophony


doi: 10.26478/ja2020.8.12.3


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