Common Examples of Onomatopoeia in English Speech

Have you ever heard of the term onomatopoeia? Originating from the Greek language, the unusual word refers to terms that are just as unique in human speech. Instead of pointing to a more definite meaning, onomatopoeic words are intended to imitate the sounds of something in real life. In the English language, you can find examples of onomatopoeia for: animal sounds, body functions and the physical reactions of things.

1. Animal Sounds Onomatopoeia

You can find many examples of onomatopoeia in animal sounds. One of the most common is a dog's barking: woof. There is also meow, (the sound imitating a cat), moo, moo, (the sound of a cow), and oink, (the sound of a pig). A longer example of animal-based onomatopoeia is cock-a-doodle-doo, the sound associated with roosters crowing in the morning.

2. Body Functions Onomatopoeia

There are also examples of onomatopoeia that describe the sounds of various body functions. One of the most common is lub, dub, the sound the heart makes when it is beating. Achoo is an example of onomatopoeia that describes the sound a sneeze makes.

Onomatopoeic words can also serve as 'traditional' verbs. In the case of body functions, the term 'smooch' is an example. It can be used to describe the sound of kissing or it can be used as an action verb. For instance, if one said a couple is smooching, they would be using the word as a verb. But if the word 'smooch' is used to describe a scene in an illustrative work, it becomes onomatopoeic.

3. Physical Reactions Onomatopoeia

Finally, you can find examples of onomatopoeia in the physical reactions of things. Some of these words will be old, such as pow, the word describing the sound a gun or cannon makes when it is fired. Others will be new, as they are completely made up by a particular author. This is very common in comic strips, where one can find many examples of onomatopoeia. Since there are some reactions without onomatopoeia, authors have to create their own to help add effect to their scenes. Marketers also do this when thinking of ways to promote their products. The snap, crackle pop slogan of Rice Krispies is an example.

In conclusion, the English language provides many examples of onomatopoeia. You can also find examples of onomatopoeia in other languages. In fact, there are some onomatopoeic words that are used in one language but not used in another. Consider onomatopoeic words associated with wind blowing. In English, there is nothing that officially describes this. But in several Asian languages, one can find many examples of onomatopoeia describing this sound. So, that alone shows that onomatopoeia is not universally the same. Some cultures will create onomatopoeic words for sounds that for whatever reason have more meaning to them. And even widespread onomatopoeic words tend to be different for each language. Yet, despite the differences, onomatopoeia still does an excellent job of adding effect to a literary or illustrated scene. So, in that way the concept can still be considered universal.

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