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Journal Article

Analogy-making in the Semai sensory world

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http://pubman.mpdl.mpg.de/cone/persons/resource/persons1223

Tufvesson,  Sylvia
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Categories across Language and Cognition, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Language documentation and data mining;

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Citation

Tufvesson, S. (2011). Analogy-making in the Semai sensory world. The Senses & Society, 6(1), 86-95. doi:10.2752/174589311X12893982233876.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-BB79-F
Abstract
In the interplay between language, culture, and perception, iconicity structures our representations of what we experience. By examining secondary iconicity in sensory vocabulary, this study draws attention to diagrammatic qualities in human interaction with, and representation of, the sensory world. In Semai (Mon-Khmer, Aslian), spoken on Peninsular Malaysia, sensory experiences are encoded by expressives. Expressives display a diagrammatic iconic structure whereby related sensory experiences receive related linguistic forms. Through this type of formmeaning mapping, gradient relationships in the perceptual world receive gradient linguistic representations. Form-meaning mapping such as this enables speakers to categorize sensory events into types and subtypes of perceptions, and provide illustrates how a diagrammatic iconic structure within sensory vocabulary creates networks of relational sensory knowledge. Through analogy, speakers draw on this knowledge to comprehend sensory referents and create new unconventional forms, which are easily understood by other members of the community. Analogy-making such as this allows speakers to capture fine-grained differences between sensory events, and effectively guide each other through the Semai sensory landscape. sensory specifics of various kinds. This studyillustrates how a diagrammatic iconic structure within sensory vocabulary creates networks of relational sensory knowledge. Through analogy, speakers draw on this knowledge to comprehend sensory referents and create new unconventional forms, which are easily understood by other members of the community. Analogy-making such as this allows speakers to capture fine-grained differences between sensory events, and effectively guide each other through the Semai sensory landscape.