You Don’t Say: Onomatopoeia – Vol 35

Ray Hudson
Ray Hudson
By Ray Hudson

There’s a million dollar word for you that doesn’t seem related directly to the topic because it sounds nothing like the action it is intending to describe. The word, which comes from the Greek language (two columns ago) means to phonetically imitate or resemble the sound of the word it is describing.

This topic came about as I was reading to my young grand-daughter recently, telling her all the words for the sounds that animals make, or should I say sounds they make that morph into words in English. I was reminded of the huge number of words in our vocabulary that graphically describe the sounds they make.

Frogs croak, Cats meow, even birds of a feather chirp, lions roar (although not apparently as loudly as the Hamilton Ti-Cats), fingers snap (as do some breakfast cereals and the tempers of politicians when asked about Mike Duffey), hands clap (but only in pairs), and telephones rrrrrrrring! Just imagine who’s calling with the latest whispers of gossip.

The words we use describing the sounds of our activities are many. But when it comes to elections, complete with door-knocking and rhapsodies of rhetoric, from podiums from coast to coast to coast, and candidates coughing up and pouring out the election goodies along with the party lines there will be the inevitable closeted political items best decribed as ticking time-bombs, awaiting the candidate who may be tooting his or her own horn a little too loudly, perhaps rendering a sour note.

One can just imagine the journalists scribbling (sound of pens on paper) notes (yep, they still scribble) and smacking their lips in anticipation of the next oops to emerge from the shadows. And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Once the reporter can tune into the buzz, pick out the valuable stuff from the chatter, he or she can then bark at the editor to stop the presses, while banging out the story on the old typewriter, then shooting it right over to the city desk.

With any luck at all it will generate a rumbling in the electorate which will tut-tut while the politicians huff and puff about the mis-deeds of the other guys.

Cheer up there are only nine weeks to go before the cacophony and hubbub of electioneering fades into silence (relative) leaving the only sound of the non-onomatopoedic phrase echoing in our memories: “nice hair though!”

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