The Phonosemantic Universality of Human Speech: A New Anthropocentric Paradigm for Word Meaning

By Alexei Medvedev.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

The paper resolves the paradox of the long existing in linguistics principle of double articulation where the privilege to be meaningful is granted only at the levels of morphemes, words, sentences, and whole discourses whose meaning is arbitrarily designated by social convention, whereas at the inferior level of the particular sounds of human speech people somehow articulate their combinations – words - by agglutination of such presumably meaningless sounds. The author’s tentative Rigorous (Radical) Universal Phonosemantic Hypothesis (RUPH) is inspired by Vygotsky’s dialectical concept of the necessary fundamental units for any comprehensive scientific analysis. Accordingly, the trilateral unity of mouth gesture, thought, and sound here are considered the "common sense of articulation" (Humboldt) that allows defining and attributing to each phone its particular syncretic, mostly spatial, intrinsic meaning which is considered universal across all human languages. Several contrastive analytic procedures upon various languages have been used for elaboration and verification of the newly compiled inventory of phonosemes - elementary bearers of meaning. The work promotes a monistic approach to semantics as a branch of linguistics while the human speech designation is spread down to the submorphemic level of language. Thus, it preserves, supplements and deepens the main preceding theories of meaning such as those of ostensive and descriptive definition, while transferring the focus of inquiry from - the independent on the speaker and apparently solely determining the word meaning - outside world, onto the inner content of human thoughts. The hypothesis well explains both phonosemantic universality of word formation by human non-linguistic universal articulatory and cognitive abilities, and the linguistic diversity of existing languages by countless possibilities in the phonosemantic realization of human cognition. Thus, it formulates a new human-centered paradigm of word formation namely by people while putting them at the very centre of word creation as the only demiurge of language.

Keywords: Universality, Meaning, Human-Centered, Articulation, Phonosemes

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 11, pp.7-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 676.213KB).

Mr Alexei Medvedev

PhD student, School of International Studies, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

1975-1997-Reseacher, Lecturer. My passion is the Humanities. 1997-Emigration to South Australia. 2002-Graduate Diploma International Studies, UniSA 2005-Honours Lingustics, Uni of Adelaide My interests include phonosemantics, application linguistics to political and social philosophy.

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