Vol. 65 No. 3 (2017)

The Role of Phonesthemes in Shoegaze Naming Conventions

Published 2017-07-03


  • anthroponyms,
  • ancient Peru,
  • Peruvian North Coast,
  • Mochica language,
  • mythology,
  • etymology,
  • Ñaimlap
  • ...More


This article focuses on some observed similarities between band names, album titles, and song titles within the shoegazing subgenre of rock music, which is characterized by loud, swirling layers of distorted guitar and droning noise. The onomastic similarities are analyzed in terms of phonesthemes, which are submorphemic sound/meaning pairs, wherein a particular phone or cluster of phones is taken to denote some abstract semantic space. As experiments show that native speaker awareness of phonesthemes influences neologistic production and perception, I argue that the preponderance of band names like Swirl and Swoon within shoegaze is due to an overlap between the genre’s aesthetic characteristics and the semantic space described by a specific set of phonesthemes in English.


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