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Challenging the Morpheme: Cross-Linguistic Occurrences of Phonaesthemic Structures



The article below sets out to demonstrate that a long-time underestimated concept in linguistics, the phonaestheme, may find its rightful place in morphological theory alongside the morpheme, traditionally defined as the smallest linguistic unit carrying meaning. The analysis includes a critical survey of literature in the field intended to offer a more comprehensive and integrated theoretical perspective on the nature of the phonaestheme and reject the idea that the sign is exclusively arbitrary. Once this objective has been achieved, the focus of the article will switch to determining how phonaesthemic meaning occurs cross-linguistically and to what extent. In order to achieve this, Margaret Magnus’s phonosemantic classification will be discussed and applied in the case of Romanian phonaesthemes.