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Bodo Winter: "Sound symbolism and the senses"

Some words sound like what they mean. For example, the words click and peep resemble the sounds they denote, a phenomenon that is variously called 'iconicity', 'sound symbolism' or 'onomatopoeia'. These contrasts with the arbitrariness of language, with many words not resembling their meanings, such as the word green, which does not sound 'green' at all. In my talk, I will explore the tug of war between iconicity and arbitrariness from the perspective of sensory perception, showing that some sensory phenomena are more likely to be expressed iconically than others. Overall, I will provide evidence for the idea that iconicity is an important design feature of language.