He’s back at it! James Chapman, the man who brought us the cute little drawings of various animals noises in different languages, is back in action. This time he’s introducing us to everyday sounds like snores, kisses, drinking and applauding, even the sound of thought and the camera shutter click, in English, Chinese, Korean, Estonian, French and German, just to name a few. I’d like him next time to include “cheese!” in different languages. For my 4th grade school photo the photographer made me say “purple pickles” instead and I thought he was a maniac (the wtf sentiment showed through in the picture).
Some of the words used between the various languages sampled are surprisingly differently, like splash in English versus zabum! in Japanese. This got me thinking about phonesthemes, which I touched on in a past post on why people hate certain names – splash seems an appropriate word in English to describe such an action because the /sp/ starts many words that have to do with liquid bursting up and/or going everywhere: think spurt, sputter, spout, spew, and we could go even further with /spl/: splash, splatter, splotch, splurge. So I went ahead with Japanese and researched other sounds that start with /za/, and learned that za:za: ‘sound of downpour’, za.wa.za.wa (sa.wa.sa.wa) ‘rustling; stirring’-pho. Falling water, rustling = liquid + spastic movement… I think we’ve found a link! Pretty cool once you think about it like that.