psyche (n.)    1640s, "animating spirit," from Latin psyche, from Greek psykhe "the soul, mind, spirit; breath; life, one's life, the invisible animating principle or entity which occupies and directs the physical body; understanding" (personified as Psykhe, the beloved of Eros), akin to psykhein "to blow, cool," from PIE root *bhes- "to blow, to breathe" (source also of Sanskrit bhas-), "Probably imitative" [Watkins].

Alas, at present, I don't have enough time to learn enough all phonology or phonetics, but from this post, I recognise the centrality of pronunciation. However, how can I learn more about 'imitation' as cited above? I've acquired a book on Historical Linguistics that I'm reading, though too slowly.

In the case above, the context appears too scant. What imitates what?

1 Answer 1


Say [psʉ̥]. Then blow out a candle. Maybe you should record yourself doing this. The sound of you blowing out a candle sounds like [psʉ̥], or could sound like it, if you blown out the candle in the right way. "Imitation" in historical phonology is a very flaccid many-edged sword, but imitation is not a precise art.

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