September 25, 2016
Ding Don Twump?

Long ago I noticed the insignificant fact that dozens of words beginning with Ďsní have something to do with the nose: sniff, snuffle, snore, snout, snarl, snaffle, snicker, sniffle, snot, snigger, snivel, snoot, snub, snuff, et, no doubt, cetera. It turns out this sort of thing has a name:

There is a subfield of cognitive linguistics that studies sound symbolism, where there is pattern in a language linking sound structure of a group of words to what is called an Ďembodied conceptual schemaí that characterizes a significant part of word meaning, though by no means all word meaning. To give you a feel for sound symbolism, consider words ending in Ėip: drip, clip, snip, rip, dip, sip, whip. There is a pattern here: the meanings all involve a short path to a sudden stop.
Here is the linguist George Lakoff, showing us how the concept can be used to bring down Widdle Donnie Drumpf.

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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at September 25, 2016 03:55 PM
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