Tag: onomatopoeia

happy and sad face

Laughing, crying, and disgust in languages around the world

Interjections like oh!, ah!, or phew! are natural ejaculations expressive of some feeling or emotion.  They are so called because they’re interjected (from Latin inter- ‘between’ and jacere ‘to throw’) between sentences, clauses, or words, mostly without grammatical connection. Although the interjection is often imitative, it is quite different from the onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word […]

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emoji language

Beyond words: how language-like is emoji?

The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking for many, brands the decision ‘ridiculous’ — after all, an emoji is, self-evidently, not a word; so the wagging fingers seem to […]

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poetic devices

Do you know your poetic devices?

Think back to English class. Poetry can be tough to talk about without the right set of tools. It’s one thing to observe that a line of poetry sounds particularly fluid, or that the break in a line makes the poem particularly effective – but another to explain that assonance and enjambment are the reasons, respectively.

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shutterstock_137388731

Remembering the language of Seamus Heaney

When Seamus Heaney’s death was announced last year the prevailing mood was one of sadness; a feeling that the world had not only lost a great poet but a kind and humane man. Thinking about Heaney, as we near what would have been his 75th birthday, I was prompted to revisit his first full-length collection […]

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Kapow and other comic book words

Kapow! and other comic book words

Chances are, if asked to think of the language of comics, terms like kapow!, blam!, and zap! wouldn’t be far from your mind. This is largely thanks to pop art and the Adam West Batman TV show, which emblazoned these terms across our screens, often accompanied by shrill trumpets blaring madly. I used to cringe […]

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duck_large

What sound does a French duck make? (Or onomatopoeia in different languages)

Hearing is important for humans to understand the world around them and it lies in our nature to want to describe what we hear. To do this, we frequently make use of onomatopoeias. But what exactly is an onomatopoeia? It is ‘the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named’. Examples […]

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fnarr fnarr

Fnarr fnarr, phwoah, and mwah

You might be surprised to discover that fnarr fnarr is included in OxfordDictionaries.com, but it has been for a few years now. ‘Fnarr fnarr’, that two-word deliverer of sniggering, usually at some piece of sexual innuendo, got me thinking about words born through sound association, and their often overlooked power in our language. A 16th century writer […]

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