Ideophones in Hindi


Ideophones in Hindi झिलझिल

V O J T Ě C H D I A T K A C H A R L E S U N I V E R I S T Y P R A G U E 2 4 . 1 1 . 2 0 1 2


 Weird words in Hindi and their current treatment in grammars – jhijhak (coyness, hesitating)  My proposal how to treat them with introducing a new linguistic category to Hindi linguistics • Concise survey of these weird words • Future research

„Weird“ words subsumed under Onomatopoeia

 In Smékal‘s study on reduplication appears one category - Onomatopoeic reduplication         It contains typical onomatopoeic words budbudānā – to mumble, to mutter cahcahānā – to twitter ṭ ap ṭ apānā – to drop BUT it contains also weird words mahmah – with fragrance cupcāp – quitely ṭ ak ṭ akī –stare, gaze Smékal 1979

Hindi grammarians on „weird“ words

Treatment Grammarians

• Complete omission of onomatopoeia Agnihotri(2007), Pořízka(1972) • Brief mention of onomatopoeic words Kachru(2006:122), Shukla(2001:148-150) and Montaut (2004:160)

„Simultaneously, it has to be born in mind that not all the actions described by onomatopoeic words have to be connected with sounds and in this sense are not pure ono words, as we know them from elsewhere. This is a special way of expression typical for more Indian languages where various states and feelings are conveyed by the quasi onomatopoeia.“

Smékal (1979:6)

What are these words?

 They do not imitate sound  They are though subsumed under onomatopeia  They are in some respects similar to onotopoeic words

Glimmer(ing) Glitter(ing) Twinkling Shimmer(ing) Flicker(ing) Blazing

झिलझिल jhilmil

„poetry in ordinary language“ (Lautmalerei)

(Starry Night Over the Rhone

– V.Gogh)


The best crosslinguistic definition

 They stand out from other words:  reduplication  budbudānā – to bubble, thartharānā – to tremble, to shiver  expressive ( marked,subjective element )  cipcipā - sticky, clinging, slimy or greasy semantics 




The best crosslinguistic definition

Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery  They depict rather than describe  He said he was coming. X He said: „I am coming.“ 

The crucial feature [of ideophones], then, is not “resemblance to” but

“invitation to seeing as” (DINGEMANSE 2011:184)

The best crosslinguistic definition

Ideophones are marked words that depict sensory imagery  They represent not only sensations of outer world  Hearing, vision, touch, taste and smell   but also interoceptive experiences States of mind, subject evaluations, feelings…    hakkā-bakkā – confused, perplexed Gudgud - soft, pulpy cakācaudh - glitter


Perceptually exceptional Depict rather than describe Intercoeptive experience Sensation of outer world Reduplication


2.Other traditional senses • It is not meant to be exhaustive list • First survey of ideophones in Hindi • representatives of major word classes – verbs, nouns, adjectives 3.Manners of movement 4.Interoceptive experience

Semantic domains associated with ideophones in Hindi


• Core member of category Ideophones • Words imitating sounds 2.Other traditional senses 3.Manners of movement     ka ṭ ka ṭ ānā – to click, to crack (V) susakār – hissing (N) gungunā – mumbling (A) surasurānā - to move like rustling insect (V)  pharpharáná – to flutter (as a flag) (V) 4.Interoceptive experience


2.Other traditional senses

3.Manners of movement 4.Interoceptive experience • Words connected with another human senses vision, touch, taste and smell • Not “resemblance to” but “invitation to seeing as” • Not equally distrubuted across all modalities of perception      jhilmilānā – to glitter, to shine (V) gudgudāha ṭ – tickling (N) ṭ im ṭ imā – blazing, glittering (A) phusphusā – soft, tender (A) mahmah – with fragrance (I)


• This category is usually widespread across ideophonic languages (JUNOD 1896:196) • Could be subumed under vision 2.Other traditional senses

3.Manners of movement

     laplapānā – to spring, to flicker (V) la ṛ kha ṛ āha ṭ – stumbling (N) cha ṭ pa ṭ ā - wriggling (A) thapthapānā – to pat with love (V) tilmilānā – to convulse in pain (V) 4.Interoceptive experience


• Not only we have extero-receptors, but also intero-receptors and proprio-receptors 2.Other traditional senses 3.Manners of movement     jhijhaknā – to hesitate (V) hakkābakkā - confused (A) thi ṭ hak - stiffen (I) gadgad – very happy (I)  gumsum – thoughtful (I)

4.Interoceptive experience

Future research I

  Ideophonic meaning is usually inherently vague It is impossible to capture meaning of unit in isolation   cha ṭ pa ṭ ānā – to wriggle / to be restless/ to yearn, to long cipcipā – sticky / adhesive / clinging / slimy, greasy

Future research II

 Ideophones are usually understood as a separate category of words (KILIAN-HATZ 2006:510, DINGEMANSE 2011:133)  Semantically and functionally – one unique category  Syntactically – two categories   genuine ideophones Integrated ideophones

Future research II

 Genuine ideophones

(1) (2) ca ṭ -pa ṭ ca ṭ -pa ṭ

capātī - quickly made bread (literally fast bread) patā calegā – it will soon be discovered (it is adverb)  Integrated ideophones (1) phusphusā - fragile, brittle, soft, tender (A)

(2) la ṛ kha ṛ āha ṭ

- stumbling, staggering (N) (3) thapthapānā - to pat with affection (V)


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 Evans-Pritchard, E. E. 1962. “Ideophones in Zande.” Sudan Notes and Records 34: 143-146. Biblio k poetry in languat