sound symbolism is the linguistic concept that the meaning of a word derives from how it is spoken. conventional theory would put forth that the pronunciation of a word is arbitrary, and doesn't substancially affect the meaning of a word.

one argument against sound symbolism might be: 'if the meaning of a word derived from its pronunciation, there shouldn't be such radically different sounds in various languages for the same word: english run, spanish correr, swedish löpa this is true, and although they all mean to run, sound symbolism states that they all have different connotations in the minds of their speakers due to their different pronunciations. maybe one run carries a slight feeling of haste, or of endurance, or of necessity.

multiple words following similar consonant patterns can be placed into a semantic group where a meaning seems to unify all words. for example, words that pretain to roundness*: bagel, bale, ball, balloon, bangle, bead, bell, belly, berry, bladder, blimp, blip, blister, bloat, blob, blotch, bobbin, boulder, bowl, bulb, bulge, button. not only do all of these words start with a b, but the majority of them contain a l either directly following the b, or somewhere in the word. lists like these can help solve many a puzzling linguistic query, aho!

though sound symbolism can aid in the study of word mutations and meanings, sound symbolism's most practical application would appear to be in the use of creating stronger essays, speeches, etc. the average writer might arbitrarily choose from a list of synonyms of a word to communicate an idea, though through sound symbolism, one would know the slight connotative spin on each word, and choose more wisely. i think that in theory, if words were chosen precisely enough, one could word a simple little kid's story in a way such that a feeling of..say, revelation, might be left in the reader's head. just a thought.

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example taken from above website.