Monday, March 12, 2018

Onomatopoeia for a light beam

No, not light sabers (Star Wars) this time, but a beam of light. Although light doesn't make any sound, there are some rare instances in the English language where a sound word appears to refer to something purely visual. Like bling bling for example. In Japanese this is much more common. Pika means dazzle or glimmering light. One can get ideas from other literary sources, too. In the early 20th century there was a style of poetry called visual poetry. In Willard Bohn's book about visual poetry, he describes how the poet Gino Severini referred to light as going 'szszszszszsz' and 'stzsssssss'. Finally, people often make up onomatopoeia on the fly, especially in comics. You could make up an expression to indicate a light beam, ask people to read it, and find out whether it comes across the way you intend.

Gray Scale Photography of Lighthouse

Friday, January 29, 2016

Every Batman onomatopoeia in one gif

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Onomatopoeic versus echomimetic

In a Reddit thread about how to spell lightsaber sounds (Star Wars), user Takai_Sensei posts an interesting comment about the difference between onomatopoeic and echomimetic:

"Snap-hiss" is what we would think of as a standard onomatopoeia: a word that represents and imitates a sound. This is in the same category as "meow" and "whoosh." They conform to some standard spelling rules and are used grammatically like words are.
But things like "bwwwwoooggzzhhheee" and "BIZZOWWWWww," while still onomatopoeic, are more on the echomimetic side of things. This is more like using letters to transcribe exactly what you hear as close as possible.
Both are "onomatopoeia," sound words, but they are slightly different.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New concept: Anti-onomatopoeia!

"If onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like or suggests its definition, then anti-onomatopoeia is a word that seems to suggest upon hearing something completely opposite to its actual definition." Reddit user wingedwombat comes up with a nice new concept. Read the original post and comments for possible candidates of anti-onomatopoeia including pulchritude, chlamydia and rubella.

If two people say the word 'simultaneous' ...

... does that make it an onomatopoeia?


My two cents: I think user 'mtwstr' is correct, that the answer is no, because it's only onomatopoeia if the word itself imitates sound.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The name Pac-Man is inspired by onomatopoeia

UberFacts on Twitter:

"Pac-Man's name was inspired by the Japanese onomatopoeia "pakku-pakku," which sounds like someone opening and closing their mouth"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Interjections vs onomatopoeia

Most interjections are not onomatopoeia. An interjection is a word that expresses emotion or exclamation, such as wow!, eek!, and d'oh!. It usually is not part of a sentence. Onomatopoeia is a word or phrase that imitates the sound of a thing or action, such as splash!, badaboom, and whoosh. It can express emotion, but the imitation of sound is more prominent. In the sentence 'Hey, get off my lawn!', the interjection Hey does not imitate the sound of anything other than itself, the person saying 'hey', and in this case it is an exclamation, but maybe it also expresses some emotion (anger). In the sentence 'Achoo! I think I caught a cold', the onomatopoeia Achoo primarily serves to imitates the sound of sneezing.

Find more info here and here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What is a pobblebonk, and why is it called that?

Limnodynastes dumerilii is a frog species native to Australia. They call it pobblebonk because it has a distinctive call that sounds a bit like a banjo being plucked. That is why they also sometimes call it Banjo frog! Perhaps that is why pictures and statues of frogs with banjos are fairly common. This word I got from an interview I heard with Dr Roly Sussex from the University of Queensland

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween onomatopoeia

Hear the monsters crawling around the house at night ... SKRRREEEEK Clang! What was that??!!
The sound of terror ... :
tch, tch, tch  ,  groan ,  moan ,  screech ,  yowl ,  aroo ,  clang , growl , hoo hoo , roar , scream , screech , shriek , snarl , squelch , creak , jangle , shashing , thung , lash , hiss , skrrreeek , mwahaha / mwahaha / muahaha , hehehe! , gnash , gnaw , shuffle shuffle shuffle  , kirik

HALLOWEEN FRIGHT-NIGHT (onomatopoeia), a poem by Jacinta Ramayah, Malaysia from

HALLOWEEN FRIGHT-NIGHT (onomatopoeia), a poem by Jacinta Ramayah, Malaysia from

'via Blog this'

Monday, October 7, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

So what DOES the fox say?

The song "The fox" about the sounds that animals make is taking the internet by storm. The chorus goes: "What does the fox say?". Interesting question! Two articles, one in and the other on Popular Science answer the question.

According to Wired one of the suggestions made in the song, namely  "“Chacha-chacha-chacha-chow”  comes pretty close.

Popular Science says the fox most often does a series of barks like "ow-wow-wow-wow", but very high-pitched. There is also gekkering a guttural chattering with occasional yelps and howls, like an "ack-ack-ack-ackawoooo-ack-ack-ack". This sound is made when they communicate with foxes in closer proximity.

And here is the music video:


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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Click! Onomatopoeia For Your Eyes | Symbiartic, Scientific American Blog Network

Click! Onomatopoeia For Your Eyes | Symbiartic, Scientific American Blog Network: Ji Lee’s book, "Word As Image" is a collection of 90 altered words, examples of visual onomatopoeia. He has also just come out with an animated version of the same book.

'via Blog this'