Sounds Like Life

Sounds Like Life : Sound-symbolic Grammar, Performance, and Cognition in Pastaza Quechua

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Nuckolls studies the occurrence of sound-symbolic words - words that bear resemblance to phenomena they attempt to describe - in an Ecuadorian dialect of Quechua, a major South American language. She explores how the speakers describe everyday experience and how sound-symbolism is integral to their way of thinking and more

Product details

  • Hardback | 312 pages
  • 163.3 x 243.8 x 29.5mm | 696.71g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • line drawings
  • 0195089855
  • 9780195089851

Back cover copy

All languages feature sound symbolism, which occurs when the form of a linguistic utterance resembles in some way what it describes or refers to. Onomatopoeic words, such as thump and whack, are a couple of examples from English. For English speakers and other westerners, however, sound symbolism is relegated to whimsical styles of speech and writing. In Sounds Like Life, Janis Nuckolls argues that sound symbolism is integrated with the grammar of Pastaza Quechua, a dialect spoken in eastern Ecuador. With data from brief exchanges, sustained dialogues, explanatory accounts, narratives of personal experience, and myths, Nuckolls explores the ways in which abstract grammatical concepts, such as duration and completiveness, are communicated through sound-symbolic images. Moreover, the evidence from sound symbolism's grammatical patterning, its performative foregrounding in multiple contexts of use, and its ability to trigger memories of key life experiences, suggests that for the Pastaza Quechua sound symbolism is more than a style of speaking. It is a style of thinking about oneself as connected, by the sounds that resonate through one's body, with the natural world. This book offers the first detailed study of the grammatical properties of sound symbolism, which has significant implications for grammatical theory. Nuckolls challenges the traditional conceptions of aspect grammar, demonstrating that in Pastaza Quechua, grammatical representations of duration and completiveness depend on speakers' spatial and perceptual experience, and are embodied within the nature of linguistic more

Review quote

The book speaks for the value of intensively conducted linguistic field research, evocatively encourages our reassessments of dichotomic theories about language, and will doubtless occupy quite a unique place on the shelves of Quechua studies for some years to come. * Anthropological Linguistics *show more

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