BYU Asian Studies Journal


Madison Buckles


BYU Asian Studies, Japanese, sound


his paper examines sound symbolism in the Japanese language, primarily its role in linguistic qualities of onomatopoeia, and why it occurs in relation to language theory. Several reasons for the occurrence of sound symbolism are discussed, namely vowel and consonant associations; context of a speaker’s language; and the development, significance, and necessity of these words. The paper concludes by arguing that the lack of research in the field of sound symbolism, despite its prominent role against the prevailing theory of language (which states that words are arbitrary in conjunction with their meaning), is another example of the Western world’s tendency to focus on subjects that are Western-centric, and this demonstrates that the Western world has not cleared its biases toward Asian cultures completely.