Onomatopoeia and Coevolution of a Globally Shared Language (GSL).

A Japanese college student recently asked me to provide English onomatopoeia for sounds recorded on videos she had on her computer.  There were 14 samples, with sounds such as the CLINK of a coin falling on tale, the CLICK/CLACK (or CLIP CLOP) of  a person with hard-soled shoes walking across a hard floor.  A few left me without any good answer, including the sound of a sheet of paper hitting the floor —  a sound that may have an everyday Japanese onomatopoeic word.

A shared online effort to create globally shared onomatopoeia for many commonly experienced sounds — the CLICK of a light switch, the SNAP of fingers, the BOOM of an explosion — could be a fine starting point for a GSL  Global participants could vote on various choices.  These could come from existing onomatopoeia from the thousands of existing languages, or could be neologisms.

This kind of  playful, ongoing project would be interesting not only from an academic/research perspective, but just plain pleasure.   The first human languages may well have started from onomatopoeic utterances, such as a man or woman imitating the burble of a brook to a thirsty mate, followed by an offered drink of water.  It’s interesting to imagine a GSL shaped by a similar process.   Visitors to CreolEarth may have valuable ideas about how to proceed with such a process.

More to follow . . .


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