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Conference Proceeding

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Atlantic languages -- Ideophone, Bullom So language -- Ideophone, Multilingualism, Language and languages -- West Africa


Expressive language such as ideophones and mimetics have provided an important index of social and cultural features. On the continent of Africa, where the word category is generally known as ideophones, such words appear in every major phylum and in most families. They even appear in the continent’s pidgins and creoles, thus representing a language function of some considerable areality. The one place they do not appear, however, is in the colonizing languages when they have not been appropriated by local communities. When the European languages become every day varieties, however, ideophones are regularly used just as they would in the substrate. Thus, ideophones form a crucial component of most African languages.


Extended abstract of a paper delivered to: Mimetics in Japanese and other languages of the world NINJAL Symposium 16, Tokyo, 17-18 Dec 2016.

Presentation slides for this paper can be found at

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