This is a request to reopen the question, "Sounds which seem to express a particular quality whatever words they appear" I believe that it is a perfectly legitimate question and not a not real one, as simchona, MετάEd, Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, cornbread ninja and tchrist stated.

Indeed, if any, the question is an "expert" one, I would say.

In fact, the answer is (PHONESTHEME):

The term phonestheme (or phonaestheme in British English) was coined in 1930 by British linguist J. R. Firth (from the Greek φωνή phone, "sound", and αἴσθημα aisthema, "perception" from αίσθάνομαι aisthanomai, "I perceive") to label the systematic pairing of form and meaning in a language.

A phonestheme is different from a morpheme because it does not meet the normal criterion of compositionality.


So, I would like to post my own answer.

Thank you.

  • 2
    I voted to reopen. Just get three more people.
    – user31341
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


There is a good single word request in the original post.

But the post is badly organized. It seems to be about a linguistic effect, based both on the title (“Sounds which seem to express a particular quality whatever words they appear”) and the first paragraph. This is misleading: the post takes the reader down a garden path. Suddenly the actual question – a single word request – comes near the end of the body, almost as an afterthought.

A poorly worded question leads to poor responses. The reaction in comments shows that poor organization created great confusion. It generated much wasted discussion of the linguistic effect itself and whether the question was on topic.

The original close reason was "ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form." That is still an apt description for the question as posed. For the sake of all future visitors who will also be confused, the question should either be immediately reorganized or else reclosed until it can be rewritten.

Also, Carlo, I point out with all kindness that you became impolite when the question was not received as you intended. If you had addressed yourself to improving the question instead of attacking people who commented on it you might have had an answer long before now.

  • Notice that @TimLymington is still mystified by the question.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 19:28
  • Notice that I am still mystified by Tim's and your objections to the question. I can't see anything in the edit history to justify any criticism - apart from the fact that either Carlo or a mod seems to have deleted a comment of his that you said had "crossed the line". Given that the overall tone of comments by others was mostly curt/dismissive, it wouldn't be surprising if he bit back once or twice. He's not a native speaker, so it was unjustifiable to focus on whatever words they appear, and ignore often suggest. Phonosemantics is "real", not hokum. Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 21:13
  • 3
    @FumbleFingers Carlo's tone has improved greatly since he was a new user.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 21:20
  • 1
    To his credit, I believe. Even though I disagreed with the point he was trying to make, I had some sympathy with Carlo when he ended up on the wrong side of an argument with tchrist some time ago. (To be honest, I'd feel sympathetic towards anyone in an altercation with tchrist; even if they were in the right and fully fluent, they'd still probably lose! :) The point is many comments simply attacked Carlo's theory (which imho is at least credible), and ignored the fact that the question asked for a word (which John Lawler, for example, could have supplied at any time). Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 21:43
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers You must also remember that half the comments from that question were deleted because Carlo was attacking other users.
    – user10893
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 3:40
  • 1
    @simchona: I can't "remember" what I never knew. Those comments that remain seem more critical than I think is justifiable, and don't support the negative attitudes I'm seeing here. Not to mention which the question has been reopened, suggesting the substance of those criticisms was misconstrued. Whatever - I'm not wanting to make a big thing of it, and I understand how Carlo's "ebullient certitude" may sometimes raise hackles. I just don't think he deserves all the flak he gets, and I thoroughly support him on this one. Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 15:48
  • 2
    @fumble he turned the criticism into "you're all stupid and don't understand me" which is why they're gone
    – user10893
    Commented Jan 27, 2013 at 16:04

How does that answer address the stated problem,that if this quality exists it exists in all languages, not just English, and so the question is quintessentially off-topic?

(Incidentally, I would never have thought from reading the question that you were looking for this answer. That's not a reason to close, but it may be a reason to downvote.)

  • 2
    I don't understand the first part of this answer, but I'm downvoting because the second part seems to be critical of OP's original question. Which I think is perfectly clear, and for which OP has in fact eventually found the answer himself (doubtless thinking, "Thanks for nothing, ELU!"). What's all this business about if this quality exists it exists in all languages? Whose "stated problem" is it supposed to be? Anyway, that is OffTopic here, and would need to be asked on linguistics.se. Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 5:25
  • @TimLymington The question was a word request. Surely a word request can be on topic even when the concept the word stands for is not to do with the English language.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 17:39
  • 2
    +1 for demonstrating how confusing the OP's original question is.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Jan 26, 2013 at 19:30

You must log in to answer this question.