The present volume represents a selection of papers presented at the International Symposium on Ideophones held in January 1999 in St. Augustin, Germany. They center around the following hypotheses: Ideophones are universal; and constitute a grammatical category in all languages of the world; ideophones and similar words have a special dramaturgic function that differs from all other word classes: they simulate an event, an emotion, a perception through language. In addition to this unique function, a good number of formal parallels can be observed. The languages dealt with here display strikingly similar patterns of derivational processes involving ideophones. An equally widespread common feature is the introduction of ideophones via a verbum dicendi or complementizer. Another observation concerns the sound-symbolic behavior of ideophones. Thus the word formation of ideophones differs from other words in their tendency for iconicity and sound-symbolism. Finally it is made clear that ideophones are part of spoken language - the language register, where gestures are used - rather than written language.