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Basque ideophones from a typological perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2017

Iraide Ibarretxe-Antuñano*
University of Zaragoza


Ideophones are described as expressive marked linguistic units with a dramaturgic depictive function. Although commonly regarded in traditional general linguistics as rare and marginal, recent research on this topic has shown that these elements are pervasive in all languages and that they might share some linguistic characteristics across languages. This article analyses Basque ideophones from a typological perspective. The main goal is to describe the structure, meaning and function of Basque ideophones and to discuss how the Basque ideophonic system fits into the cross-linguistic characterisation of these linguistic units.


On décrit les idéophones comme des unités linguistiques marquées, expressives, et dotées d'une fonction de représentation dramaturgique. Bien que considérés rares et marginaux dans les travaux de linguistique générale traditionnelle, des recherches récentes démontrent que ces éléments sont bien enracinés dans toutes les langues, et certains proposent que les idéophones partagent certaines caractéristiques à travers les langues humaines. Cet article présente une analyse typologique des idéophones basques; son principal objectif est de décrire la structure, le sens et la fonction des idéophones basques et d'examiner comment ils se s'insèrent dans une caractérisation de ces éléments à l’échelle des langues du monde.

© Canadian Linguistic Association/Association canadienne de linguistique 2017 

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Research funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (MovEs Project, FF12010-14903, FFI2013-45553-C3-1-P). Special thanks to Solveiga Armoskaite for organising the workshop “Structuring sensory imagery: Ideophones across languages and cultures” (University of Rochester, May 2014). I would also like to thank the workshop audience as well as to the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. RRYrentzat, adiskide onekin, orenak labur.



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