New answers tagged phonetics
Well, I would like to add my view . Onomatopoeic words are just imitating sounds. For me, to ask about an intrinsic meaning does not make much sense. But the view that normal words are just arbitary sounds is, at least, naive. That may be true for the very first words of the very first human beings. But then there must be logic in the words otherwise Man ...
I think they are still quite arbitrary, as the chosen onomatopoeia depends on the speaker's language to start with. For you "buzz" may sound like the bee, but a Dutchman uses the word "zoemen", the "zoem" reflecting the bee-sound to him (it is pronounced as "zoom"). A similar thing is true for the golden oriole (a bird), which is "wielewaal" in Dutch. ...
My (uneducated) guess would be it has to do with the long vowel sound before the [gn]. It seems to create difficulty to pronounce the [g] sound after a long vowel sound. Other examples are feign (long), indignity (short), benign (long).
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