En réponse à Frank George Valoczy <[log in to unmask]>:

> >
> > That's a common phenomenon across languages.  Another good example
> is
> > Japanese "chibi" for "small".  It just *sounds* little.  :-)
> Like Hungarian /pitsi/ and /kitSi/ for small, /nOd^j/ and /bOro:/ for
> large.

My booklet about the structure of languages says that the survey about [i] as
indicating smallness gives 42% of contrary facts. One of them from Hungarian,
with kicsi: small (probably your /kitSi/) but apro (with an accent on the o,
but I'm not sure whether it's Hungarian orthography): "extremely small". German
has Riese: giant. Generally, phenomena of phonosymbolism tend to be restricted
to language families, and full of exceptions.

There is only one phenomenon that seems to spread among languages: it's the
tendency of vocalism to go from front to back in expressive lists, or
consonnantism to begin by stops and carry on by fricatives, or the words to get
longer. I'm talking about expressions like English 'flip flop', 'by guess and
by gosh', German 'klipp und klar', French 'bric-à-brac', 'prendre ses cliques
et ses claques', Spanish 'tarde o temprano' (while the logic in the language
would always put temprano: early, before tarde: late), Russian 'tam i sjam'
('there and here', while even for the Russian language you put what's near
before what's far). The French 'tic-tac' (or even 'tic-tac-toc') for the sound
of a clock is the same phenomenon.


Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.