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Onomatopoeic word or not? Help!

Discussion in 'English' started by gizzywig, May 21, 2011.

  1. I was looking at a poem with a lovely sparky boy I tutor privately. I said the word 'oozed' was an onomatopoeic word. He pointed out that something that oozes doesn't actually make a sound, it's an action. When I thought about this it seemed to make sense. So, I set him off to find out the answer and I said I would do the same- the wager being a bar of chocolate. I asked my department if it was an onomatopoeia and they agreed with him that it wasn't.
    Fast forward to the next week and him sitting smugly while I told him he was right, he had just been basking in his glory when I was looking through notes from the official Wilfred Owen website when we came across this:

    '(9-10) A remarkable simile illustrates nature's healing power. "Oozed" - another onomatopoeic word straight from Keats.'

    Argh! The whole thing started up again! My instinct told me it was but when considered logically (from my understanding of the term), it can't be as it doesn't make a sound. Thoughts please... there's a bar of chocolate riding on it!
  2. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Something that slides dosn't necessarily make a sound. Onomatopoeic words don't have to have an aural aspect, surely? It's the whole feel of the word that makes it opnomatopeiac or not. I reckon oozes is as onomatopoeic as they come.
  3. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Where does this idea that onomatopoeic words have to have something to do with sound come from?
  4. comes from the definition?
    The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named
  5. manc

    manc New commenter

    I think the term can be use elastically to describe the replication of the sort of sense of the word -its essence.
  6. Facetious

    Facetious New commenter

    I'd go with it being an onomatopoeia as I've come across a few words like this. Even if the literal sound isn't there, there's a suggestion of it. At the least, in an essay you would say that is suggests a quality of an onomatopoeia. Even 'stick' in 'Limbo' when it reads 'stick, hit, whip' could be argued to do the same, as the consonant ending echoes the sound of a stick hitting skin.
  7. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    I prefer to use "onomatopoeia" strictly in connection with sound. Even then, there are lots of grey areas. Sometimes students imagine onomatopeia because they think it should be there - or concoct a fanciful connection between a consonant sound and a real sound.

    Clearly there's something in the common sounds of "slippery", "slimy", "sludgy", "slinky", "slops" that echoes the (non-sound) meaning - I'd say they are "echoic" words. Another term that linguists use for words whose sound seems to reflect the meaning (whether the meaning is to do with sounds or not) is "opaque".
  8. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    Hand over the chocolate and then ask whether "yummy" is onomatopoeic.
  9. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Well, thanks to both the OP and Markuss for putting me right!
    Mind you, I fail to see how "opaque" would clarify matters for anyone. "Evocative" makes more sense to me.

  10. Spassky

    Spassky New commenter

    Ooze is an ideophone not an onomatopoeia. So are smear and flick. Onomatopoeia is just one specific type of ideophone. Only a word which relates directly and specifically to sound can be an onomatopoeia.
  11. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

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