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mar. 03/05/2022 Séminaire de recherche DiLiS
Atelier Typologie sémantique

The sound of taboo: exploring a sound-meaning association in swear words of English and French
10h-12h
MSH-LSE, salle Berty Albrecht
Conférence de :
  • Robin Vallery (Université de Lille, Savoirs, Textes & Langage)

dans le cadre DILIS

Swear words of English and French, both real and fictional ones, significantly tend to contain the least sonorous consonants (i.e. plosives, voiceless fricatives, and affricates), compared to the rest of the lexicon. What can explain the overrepresentation of such sounds among swear words? This might be a case of sound symbolism or systematicity, when sounds are unconsciously associated with a meaning. I will examine the pragmatic vs. semantic nature of the meaning involved, as well as two explanations in terms of iconicity, based on insights from existing literature: plosives may be associated with “violation of hearer’s space”, or unsonorous consonants may be associated with “aggression”. I will also describe the methodology and give the first results of an experimental study where native speakers of English and French spontaneously invent fictional swear words. Swear words have an emotional, contextual meaning, like interjections or insults, so this unusual sound-meaning pairing would involve an emotional-contextual, non-truth-conditional meaning, and be powerful enough that it influences a strong sociolinguistic convention – which words are swear words and which ones are not – suggesting that sounds convey meaning in yet unsuspected ways.

Participer à la réunion Zoom
https://cnrs.zoom.us/j/93045922367?pwd=YS9BbU04enBjNDA2TGJ4QVlTUS9FZz09
ID de réunion : 930 4592 2367
Code : X2zEG6


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