The Nature of the Relationship Between Sounds and Their Meanings

The Nature of the Relationship Between Sounds and Their Meanings

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8079-9.ch001

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors look at how the sounds that make up words may play a role in determining the meanings of words.
Chapter Preview
Top

Section 1: The Nature Of The Meanings Of Sounds

The individual sounds that make up words seem to have many conflicting meanings. In Figure 1, the sound “A” is an “indefinite article” in the phrase “A Bird.” “A” here means “any” bird, not a specific bird.

Figure 1.

Sounds have conflicting meanings

978-1-5225-8079-9.ch001.f01

However, in the word “Atypical” (which means “not typical”), sound “A” means “not.”

And in the word “Aside” (which means “at the side”), the sound “A” means “at.”

In other languages, the sound “A” has even more conflicting meanings. Unable to reconcile these conflicting meanings, most scientists think that sounds have no meanings at all. In other words, they believe in shallow semantics: words as a whole are labels for things, and the individual sounds that make up a word are chosen arbitrarily (Saussure, 1916).

However, we use words to organize our thoughts, and words consist of sounds. Therefore, sounds must mean something.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset