The grounds for studying phonetic symbolism (phonosemantics, etc.) in Tolkien's invented languages were well established by Tolkien through comments made in letters, drafts of his works, and essays. Previous researchers (e.g., Smith, 2006; 2007; Gymnich, 2005) have discussed the aesthetic effects of Tolkien's elvish languages on his audience, and have also observed connections between a range of meanings and sounds in Tolkien's languages (e.g., Fimi, 2008; Rausch, 2013). However, no researchers have explored this area of study with quantitative methods. The aim of this paper is to investigate the relationship between vowel quality and meanings of size in the Gnomish Lexicon and the Qenya Lexicon. Chi-square goodness-of-fit tests indicate statistically significant associations between vowel category and meanings of size, particularly /i/ and smallness, and the back vowels /o/ and /a/ and meanings of largeness. I argue that this case study confirms the presence of phonetic symbolism in Tolkien's invented languages.
"Vowel Category and Meanings of Size in Tolkien's Early Lexicons,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 9:
2, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol9/iss2/5