Two Parts.

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"Onomatopoeia... has two meanings.  its most common definition is using a word or phrase that seems to imitate the sound it denotes; for example bang, creak, murmur, ding-dong, or plop.  As with consonance and assonance, that effect cannot come from the sound of the word alone: its meaning is involved as well...  In a broader sense, onomatopoeia means using words in such a way that they seem to exemplify what they denote, not just in terms of sound but also of such qualities as pacing, force, touch, movement, or duration as well" (Hamilton, 221).


In school, when I was taught about onomatopoeias, I was always taught just the first part of this definition.  I really only knew that an onomatopoeia was used to connote actual sounds like bang or pop.  I didn't realize that they could also be used to describe qualities like pacing or other movements.  I don't know if it's just easier for teachers to tell students that this incredibly long word is used to make noises in your writing than it is to have to explain to them the other part of the definition, but I definitely think that students should be taught both parts of the definition, not just the easier part.  That way, they don't have to wait until they're almost done with their freshman year in college to realize that there's two parts to an onomatopoeia.

1 Comments

Greta Carroll said:

Ally, I wrote about the same thing in my blog and was taught the same thing. I was actually sometimes confused when someone would say “this is alliteration” and I’d look at it and wonder to myself how does pacing sound like the action of walking back and forth? It rather confused me. But Hamilton has come through for us and explained the whole meaning. No more shall I wonder about onomatopoeia.

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