Word Ways


Charles Suhor


Onomatopoeia is a familiar phenomenon in language. It refers to words that sound somewhat like their meanings -- e.g., bang, splash, hiss, boom, plop, etc. It is widely recognized that onomatopoetic words are based on fairly subjective, culturally determined ideas about the verbal equivalents of noises found in nature. In the February 1975 issue of Word Ways, Maxey Brooke pointed out that French dogs are understood to be sounding out a "ouat-ouat" sound, German dogs "haf-haf," Chines dogs "wah-wah," and so on.