Word Ways


A. Ross Eckler


This is the second of two articles on the onomatopoeia of words for sounds produced by inanimate objects; the first article appeared in the May 1991 Word Ways. In that article, a taxonomy was developed relating the pitch and loudness of a sound to the vowel of the word representing it, and the duration to the initial and final consonants (or consonant clusters). The article restricted itself to sounds associated with accidental bumps, bangs or falls of solid objects (both human and inanimate), including the deliberate collisions of war and sport, and the related sounds of friction and breakage.