the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss)
June 7, 2005 8:24 PM   Subscribe

International Onomatopoeic Sounds
[Note: You must have sound for this to be cool]
posted by anastasiav (12 comments total)
What a truly beautiful website. I'm fascinated by onomatopoeia and sound symbolism. Thanks!
posted by nomis at 8:41 PM on June 7, 2005

(that was two years ago though, and a great site)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:52 PM on June 7, 2005

Well, I don't care if it is a doublepost, its new to me. And way cool. Thanks!
posted by googly at 9:15 PM on June 7, 2005

The best was the fire truck, it had the most variety.
posted by piratebowling at 9:29 PM on June 7, 2005

British cars go "boop, boop"?
posted by gubo at 9:39 PM on June 7, 2005

The best was the fire truck, it had the most variety.

Chances are firetrucks actually make very different sounds in different countries, unlike ducks etc.
posted by nomis at 9:59 PM on June 7, 2005

Great idea, so-so implementation. My main complaint is their confusing use of flag-colored icons to represent the different countries of each sound. Other than that, some of the sounds are really poor-quality. That said, I dug it.

Fire trucks and police cars certainly do make different noises in different countries. I find it fascinating that people make such divergent noises for dogs and ducks, whose noises are far more uniform than sirens. Why do people pick up on different parts of animal sounds?

"Meow," for example. If you stop and think about it, few cats really pronounce the "m", yet that's what most westerners hear. Asians often say is something like "how" or "whah".

Stuff this interesting deserves better implementation, but I'm still glad it's up, even as it is. Thanks, anastaciav.
posted by squirrel at 10:15 PM on June 7, 2005

British cars go beep-beep

There are, broadly speaking, two reasons for the variation in how different languages produce different onomatopoeias for different sounds.

First off, people hear sounds differently; although babies can at first distinguish just about all the sounds that are used in human languages, they fairly rapidly concentrate on the sounds of the mother tongue, and lose the ability to notice differences that occur in other languages. So Asians have difficulty distinguishing between English 'l' and English 'r', which are produced in similar ways (try it out) and which do not signify in their languages. So we may hear an animal differently.

Secondly, onomatopoeia words are, essentially words, and not unmediated sounds. when you make the cat sound, you do not simply imitate the sound a cat makes (although you could do this if you listened carefully and practiced a bit; I talk to my cats - not that they take much notice). You use the sounds of your language to represent the sound of the cat. So your sound will not be the same as that of a Japanese or a French speaker.
(If you do want to know more about this kind of thing, you could look at Pinker's 'The Language Instinct' or at Boysson Bardies on how children acquire language).
posted by TimothyMason at 12:38 AM on June 8, 2005

I thought the implimentation was very clever and actually well done, I liked it. I'll be sending it to all my elementary teacher friends, a great world geography lesson base here...!

And... Flies in Korea sound like a tiny two stroke motor bike...

Good post, double or not! Thanks
posted by HuronBob at 4:20 AM on June 8, 2005

This sort of thing has fascinated me ever since, in first-semester German, I learned that ein richtiger deutsche Hund sagt "Wau-wau," only to read a few years later from another source that it's supposedly "Haf-haf" instead.
posted by alumshubby at 7:22 AM on June 8, 2005

The concept of the implementation was fine, but they used some pretty poor sound samples. And there are a few inaccuracies, to boot (the snake is listed as making the sound "nyoro-nyoro" in Japanese, but that's not the sound of the snake, it's what the snake does (something like "slither slither" or "wiggle wiggle"). The sound it makes is (according to work colleagues) "shuru-shuru").
posted by Bugbread at 7:27 AM on June 8, 2005

I spend a bit of time in Mexico, and I found it interesting to learn that little chickens say "pio pio", cars go 'meek meek", and roosters say "kee-kee-ka-kee".
posted by gummo at 2:14 PM on June 8, 2005

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