Phono-semantic alignment

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Phono-Semantic Alignment ( PSA ) is a linguistic term introduced by Ghil'ad Zuckermann of the University of Adelaide .


What is meant is a disguised borrowing in which a foreign word is matched with a phonetically and semantically similar, already existing autochthonous root or such a word. Accordingly, PSA can alternatively be defined as the introduction of a neologism that preserves both the meaning and the approximate sound of a parallel expression of the QS (source language) and uses existing lexemes or roots of the ZS (target language) for this .

PSA reflects cultural and social interactions and often reveals the attempts of a culture to preserve its identity when it is confronted with overpowering foreign (e.g. American) influences without ignoring them. In this new millennium, communication technologies are making the ever-increasing contact between cultures and languages ​​easier and easier. Under the influence of satellite television and the Internet, the word's mobility has reached unprecedented levels.


The English word dubbing (dt. Dubbing, in film, television, etc.) was transformed on the way into Ivrit to דיבוב dibúv , which added a new semem to the already existing Hebrew דבוב dibbūv , a word that is not etymologically related to dubbing but is practically very similar in meaning and sound.

The German name hammock developed from the Haitian original hamáka .


Such multi-source neologization is an ideal means of lexical enrichment of a language, as it hides foreign language influence from future native speakers, ensures the lexicographical acceptance of a newly formed term, reuses autochthonous roots and words that are no longer in use (a real pleasure for purists) and the initial inclusion of the Concept for those who speak or learn the language at the time.

PPE as a neglected universal phenomenon

The traditional classifications of borrowings ignore the phenomenon and subdivide them into either substitution or import, while PSA does both at the same time. However, PPE is widely used in two major language categories:

  1. in 'reinvented' languages, e.g. B. Ivrit and Turkish as the official languages ​​of the Turkish Republic after 1928, in which language planners tried to replace undesired loan words.
  2. in languages ​​that use a 'phono-logographic' script, e.g. B. Chinese or Japanese (in the latter where Kanji are used).


  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann : Phono-Semantic Alignment. In: Stefan Langer, Daniel Schnorbusch (ed.): Semantics in the Lexicon. Gunter Narr, Tübingen 2005, pp. 223-267.
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann: Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew . Palgrave Macmillan , 2003. ISBN 9781403917232 / ISBN 9781403938695
  • Ghil'ad Zuckermann: Hybridity versus Revivability: Multiple Causation, Forms and Patterns. In: Journal of Language Contact 2009, Varia 2: 40-67 ( 318 kB ).
  • Robert Mailhammer: The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Camouflaged borrowing in Modern German. In: Folia Linguistica 42/1 (2008), pp. 177-193.
  • Yair Sapir, Ghil'ad Zuckermann: Icelandic: Phonosemantic Matching. In: Judith Rosenhouse, Rotem Kowner (ed.): Globally Speaking: Motives for Adopting English Vocabulary in Other Languages. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon-Buffalo-Toronto 2008, pp. 19–43 ( PDF ; 311 kB).

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