Statistical techniques for detecting and validating phonesthemes
But critically, there are many phonesthemes for which there can be no sound-symbolic basis, such as "gl-", for the simple reason that their meanings (such as 'pertaining to light or vision') entail no sound.
While there are numerous studies on living languages, research is lacking about ancient languages, although the first documented example of phonesthemes dates back to at least the fourth century B.
This approach demonstrates the vitality of phonesthemic patterns, but still does not provide any evidence about whether or how phonesthemes are represented in the minds of speaker-hearers.
The final type of evidence uses the methods of psycholinguistics to study exactly how phonesthemes participate in language processing.
Take the word "flip." It has an alliterative group, "fl-", that evokes the volatility of fly, flow, flee, fleet, flash, flake, and flick.Various studies have demonstrated that when asked to invent or interpret new words, subjects tend to follow patterns predicted by looking at the phonesthemes in their language.It is known, for example, that the word bangle is a loan from Hindi but speakers tend to associate it with English onomatopoeia like bang.Phonesthemes have been documented in numerous languages from diverse language families, among them English, Swedish, and other Indo-European languages, Austronesian languages, and Japanese.While phonesthemes have mostly been identified in the onsets of words and syllables, they can have other forms.*Prices in US$ apply to orders placed in the Americas only.Prices in GBP apply to orders placed in Great Britain only.A phonestheme is different from a morpheme because it does not meet the normal criterion of compositionality.Within Peirce's "theory of signs" the phonestheme is considered to be an "icon" rather than a "symbol" or an "index".Corpus studies can inform a researcher about the current state of the lexicon, a critical first step, but importantly are completely uninformative when it comes to questions of whether and how phonesthemes are represented in the minds of language users.The second type of approach makes use of the tendency for phonesthemes to participate in the coinage and interpretation of neologisms, new words in a language.