This article examines the interplay between certain depictions of sound and certain mimetic schemas (intersubjectively shared, body-based image schemas that concern basic processes and activities). The research contributes to the study of ideophones and also demonstrates that it is beneficial to study these types of words in written everyday interaction, as well as in spoken everyday interaction. Two Finnish sound words (ideophones, imitatives),
‘snap, pop’ and
(the sound of relatively soft falling) are examined and their different meanings are analysed. Some research questions of this analysis are: What causes the sound described by either naps or humps? What kind of movement is described and to what mimetic schema is the sound linked? And also: What concrete, spatial processes might motivate the words’ more abstract uses? The examination indicates that naps and humps are used as concrete depictions of sounds and movements, but also more abstractly, as depictions of cognitive and emotional processes without any spatial movement or audible sound. The motivations for these more abstract uses are studied: It is argued that the basic uses of naps and humps are tied to certain bodily processes as their sounds or impressions, and that the more abstract uses of naps and humps reflect metaphorical mappings that map the mimetic schemas of these basic, bodily experiences to more abstract experiences. Grounds for this kind of use is the unique construal of imitatives: they present an imagistic, iconic depiction of a sensation and thus evoke imagery that is shared on a direct bodily level. Thus they aid in identifying with others and their experiences on a level that is directly accessible.