Dictionaries of Japanese mimetic words

defining the mimetic category by the selection of lexical items


  • Daniel Ruiz Martínez University of Salamanca




Mimetic words, Japanese language, Selection of lexical items, Sound-symbolism


In this paper, an analysis of the selection of lexical items in Japanese mimetic dictionaries is presented to discuss the theoretical defnition of Japanese mimetic words in lexicographic practice from the point of view of Japanese mimetic linguistics. By examining the selection of lexical items listed in six Japanese mimetic dictionaries, this study attempts to determine the way in which dictionary-makers identify and represent the Japanese mimetic words as a lexical category. Adopting a mainly descriptive approach, this paper analyzes the lexical selection of four monolingual and two bilingual mimetic dictionaries. Firstly, formal and etymological criteria for selecting dictionary entries are discussed. Secondly, the coverage of each selection is compared. Next, special attention is given to whether selected mimetics are presented as primary or secondary items (namely lemmatical or non-lemmatical items) from a lexicographic perspective and, fnally, the proportions of each type of item are contrasted. As a conclusion, Japanese mimetic dictionaries show similar patterns in terms of lexical selection. In general, lexicographic practice defnes the Japanese mimetic category as lexical units, mostly adverbs, formed by allegedly sound-symbolic elements with a discrete morphophonological structure. In contrast to the published literature, the largest diferences were observed in the treatment of pseudomimetic words, as well as in the distinction between mimetic expressions containing single or multiple words.


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How to Cite

Martínez, D. R. (2019). Dictionaries of Japanese mimetic words: defining the mimetic category by the selection of lexical items. Lexicography, 6(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40607-019-00055-9