Onomatopoeia is an incredibly fun concept which expresses the wonder of language. These words when written down just appear as though they are seemingly unimportant, however, when spoken all becomes clear. Onomatopoeia deals with words that evoke the sound of that which is being described.
This may sound confusing, but once you see some examples you will see that it all makes perfect sense.
In order to explain onomatopoeia, this article will use some examples of onomatopoeia which you will no doubt encounter on a daily basis.
Most of us have no problem getting access to water or other liquids and when you are offered them in the form of a drink, or feel it hit your face on the beach, and then there are words that describe those sounds. Here are some of them:
Notice the sounds that they make when you say them aloud. The ‘s’ noises that you hear on ‘spray’ gives the sound of waves and sounds very fluid when you speak it. In the word ‘drip’ you get the sound of a dripping tap as it is a blunt word, but the ‘P’ creates the sound of it hitting the sink over and over. ‘Drop’ has the sound of a pebble or stone landing into a lake, don’t you think? Or ‘splash’ if it is a rock or cannonballing humanoid!
The Voices You Hear!
Alright, it is pretty obvious that in most cases you are going to be able to make a sound with your mouth, and not all of them are onomatopoeia obviously, but if you split the mouth into two parts; The throat being one and e lips, tongue and teeth being the other.
Now, these sections of your mouth, as I’m sure you’re aware, deal extensively with the sounds that you make on a daily basis. However, the sound is produced differently.
From the back of the throat you get things like:
The ‘g’ sound at the beginning of the word can be felt from the back of your throat, and words like ‘giggle’ which link to laughter, refers to the breaking sound of laughing which is choppy. The fact that it also sounds rather playful also directly links it to its intention. ‘Growling’ vibrates the throat and causes a ‘Grrr’ sound, so ‘growl’
With noises that are associated with the mouth are:
They are incoherent sounds formed by people who are not really moving their lips. The word ‘mumble’ sounds exactly like the act itself. If you break the word into two parts, ‘mum’ and ‘ble’ then it becomes clearer.
These are the words that associate with the sounds that are created whenever you shut a door with great force; hear glass breaking on the floor, or a car hitting another.
These sounds do not have to be inanimate objects, but can associate with sounds that humans and over animals make, such as ‘slap’. The words resonate when you speak them as though they were a firework going ‘Bang’. The sounds stretch and sometimes have a sense that they are ringing.
When the Air Takes You!
The sound of air alone has no real sound of its own, but it is only when it acts on something can you then begin to associate sounds with it. However, many of the words for the sound of wind have sounds that animals make also, like ‘flutter’, for example. These sounds are common place and you will most likely know all of them.
Words like ‘gasp’ is the noise we make when we breathe-in sharply through surprise or horror and so it is air rushing in. Paper ‘flutters’ in the wind as the pieces make contact with one and other, and as does a kite when the wind gets a hold of it.
Talk to The Animals
Now, some people have dedicated their entire lives to understanding the language of other animals on this planet. So much so that we understand the language of bees perfectly, however, to the layman and the ear alike, these languages just sound like noises.
Take a look at some of the ones below and you will see that they are words that fit the sounds of everyday animals wonderfully.
Onomatopoeia is just another example of our need to classify certain sounds appropriately with context. The term can often put people off, but the meaning of it couldn’t be any simpler, and you use and experience them every day. It is our attempts to describe the sounds that we hear around us and we manage to succeed in a multitude of possibilities.
Due to the nature of onomatopoeia, each country will have different words to imitate sounds, so some terms in English may not be understood elsewhere. I have had first-hand experience with this when my friend had a couch surfer from China staying over at her home and we asked her if she wanted a glass of ‘pop’, which is a colloquial term for a fizzy based on the noise that it makes (similar to popping candy).
Language is a rich tapestry which oozes (there’s a good one) out little gems and nuggets and it is what makes live vibrant. It is a true testament to the scope of language that we can attempt to mimic the sounds that we hear in the words that we us. Some of them sound silly, some of them sound perfectly natural. Take ‘oink’ for instance. It is an amusing word to describe the sound that a pig makes!
It is only by isolating these terms for scrutiny that we truly begin to understand the complexity and simplicity of language, and the beautiful paintings that it makes in your mind, and the music that it pours into your ears.
I will leave you with Prang!