Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford


  • Demetra Themistocleous
  • Xenia Anastassiou-HadjicharalambousEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1119-1



The ding-dong theory constitutes an early theory of the origins of spoken language postulating that the meaning of the words derives from what things sounded like.


The idea behind the early speculative theory of ding-dong theory is sound symbolism which is a nonarbitrary connection between phonetic features of linguistic items and their meanings. Max Muller at the early stages of his work on the evolution of language proposed the ding-dong theory by stating that meaning comes from sounds. According to this hypothesis, the origin of language emerged evolutionary with the names our ancestors gave to objects, activities, and natural occurrences after an identifiable sound associated with it in real life (Mandavilli 2016). An important characteristic of this notion is the fact that words having high front vowels were used to name small or jagged objects in comparison to words having round vowel which...

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  1. Mandavilli, S. R. (2016). On the origin and spread of languages: Propositioning twenty-first century axioms on the evolution and spread of languages with concomitant view on language dynamics. ELK Asia Pacific Journal of Social Science, 3(1). Retrieved from https://www.elkjournals.com/MasterAdmin/UploadFolder/Sujay%20On%20the%20origin%20of%20spoken%20language%20final%20final%20final/Sujay%20On%20the%20origin%20of%20spoken%20language%20final%20final%20final.pdf
  2. Mitchell, R., Myles, F., & Marsden, E. (2013). Second language learning theories (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Müller F. M. (1877). Lectures on the science of language. London: Longmans, Green. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/lecturesonscien02mluoft

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Demetra Themistocleous
    • 1
  • Xenia Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus