Following previous discussions of semiosilversteinianism and Rex’s suggestion regarding ‘great diagrams,’ I looked up this wild diagram, from perhaps anthropology’s most accomplished sketch artist: Alfred Gell.
From Gell’s essay, “The Language of the Forest,” which relates phonological iconism to the ‘auditory culture’ and sylvan mode of being of Umeda people in New Guinea. I quote at length:
Phonological iconism […] depends on tracing connections between the sound-substance of individual words and morphemes and their meanings. As a culturally elaborated expressive mode it is probably quite rare, if only because the regular processes of sound-shift which all languages undergo would ensure, other things being equal, that phonologically iconic forms evolved into non-iconic ones after a lapse of time. Only where things are not equal, that is, where there are specific cultural vectors tending to preserve, generalize and intensify expressivity against the countervailing forces of morphological change, should one expect to encounter elaborate phonological iconism as opposed to sporadic onomatopoeia.