Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rhyme in Word Pairs of Languages

In many languages certain word pairs exhibit rhyme. This is particularly true in word pairs that are frequently used and express a relationship of direction and distance. The use of rhyme may be to emphasize the relation of the words to one another.

The adverbs "here" and "there" both relate to location but differ in distance. In many languages these words rhyme, end in the same consonant or begin with the same consonant. The latter is not an example of rhyme but is an example of alliteration. In the case of the same consonant ending but different vowels there is consonance. Here is a list for comparison:

English: here, there
Dutch: hier, daar
Danish: her, der
Norwegian: her, der
Swedish: ha:r, da:r
Spanish: aqui, ahi'/alli'
Finnish: ta:a:lla:, siella:
Hungarian: itt, ott
Japanese: koko, soko
Korean: yogi, kogi

The next list is for the demonstrative pronouns "this" and "that". In many languages this word pair also rhymes or has the same initial sound.

English: this, that
Dutch: dit, dat
Spanish: esto, eso
Portuguese: isto, isso
Italian: questo, quello
Finnish: ta:ma:, tuo
Hungarian: ez, az
Japanese: kore, sore
Korean: igo, chogo

The final list is for the directions "left and right".

English: left, right
German: links, rechts
Dutch: links, rechts
Danish: venstre, ho/jre
Norwegian: venstre, ho/yre
Swedish: va:nster, ho:ger
Spanish: izquierda, derecha
Portuguese: izquerda, direita
French: gauche, droite
Italian: sinistra, destra

In word pairs such as "here/there" and "this/that" many languages exhibit rhyme, alliteration and consonance. These sound similarities appear to be too great to be merely a coincidence. The sound similarities of these word pairs likely reflect the semantic similarity of the word pairs.

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