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The expression of vulgarity, force, severity and size: phonaesthemic alternations in Reta and in other languages

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Phonaesthemes are a common phenomenon, but they are generally not in paradigmatic opposition like morphemes are (Svantesson 2017: 6). Reta, however, has a phonaesthemic contrast /l/~/r/, where /r/-colouring of neutral base words signifies an increase in vulgarity, intensity, size or severity (e.g. ɓela ‘bad’ vs. ɓera ‘terrible’, -ool ‘penis’ vs. -oor ‘cock’). This paper describes this phenomenon in detail, and provides a discussion as to whether it is best classified as morphological, phonaesthemic, or otherwise. We argue that, although some of the cross-linguistic criteria for phonaesthemes exclude phonaesthemic /r/ from being classified as such, it is not straightforwardly classified as either phonological or morphological. Using Kwon & Round’s (2015) criteria for phonaesthesia and derivational morphology, we compare Reta phonaesthemes to similar phenomena in other languages. We argue that such alternations differ from phonaesthemes and morphology in fundamental ways, and are best construed as a distinct cross-linguistic category.
TidsskriftStudies in Language
Sider (fra-til)659-699
Antal sider41
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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