Audio Script –
Hello. Today I will be talking about the affordances that audio allows us, that basic text does not. And what better way to do that than to talk about onomatopoeia and its history.
What is onomatopoeia? The oxford language dictionary defines it as “the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.” Some examples of this would be the words sizzle, zap, boing, and pitter-patter. Onomatopoeia adds color to text, it brings the words to life, it forces the reader to hear a sound in their mind as they read the words. But how did this crazy word, “onomatopoeia” come to be? And where do we see it used the most?
I found a great blog on Poets.org where I got a lot of information about this. According to the unaccredited writer of this post, the term onomatopoeia was first used in 1577 by author Henry Peacham. He termed the phrase in his book on grammar and rhetoric called “The Garden of Eloquence”. In this book he defined it as “when we invent, devise, fayne, and make a name intimating the sound of that it signifieth.”
The language he uses is pretty rusty by today’s terms, but it gets at the same point as the Oxford dictionary definition. Although Henry was the first to use the term onomatopoeia, examples of it have been used since the invention of language itself. In fact, some of the easiest words for children to learn are onomatopoeia words. The classic nursery rhyme, “Old McDonald” is full of sounds that animals make. “with a moo moo here and a oink oink there!” Kids books utilize words like bam, buzz, pop, and so on to help children associate the sounds they hear around them with the language they are trying to learn.
Beyond just children’s books, you can see uses of onomatopoeia in literature across the globe. Edgar Allen Poe famously saturates his poem “The Bells” with many examples of onomatopoeia.
He writes, “How they clang, and clash, and roar! By the twanging, and the clanging, how the danger ebbs and flows; yet the ear distinctly tells, in the jangling, and the wrangling.”
As for the long and complicated word onomatopoeia, it has it’s roots in Greek. Onoma means “name” and poiein means “to make”. So, the sound itself is what “makes the name”.
Now, to touch on audio versus visual texts? Would this message have been as enjoyable to receive if it hadn’t been full of fun sounds? No, it wouldn’t have. Aural delivery opens up many different doors for us and creates a space where a broader mixed media message is possible! The trick is in determining what works best in text and what works best with audio.
Thanks for listening!
“Onomatopoeia.” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, https://poets.org/glossary/Onomatopoeia.
Poe, E. (1903). The Bells. The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (Lit2Go Edition). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/147/the-works-of-edgar-allan-poe/5222/the-bells/
When I realized that the assignment was an audio one, I knew I needed a subject matter that would let me use sound effects. From there, onomatopoeia was an easy subject to choose. I used Adobe Audition to make my audio clip, and most of the sound effects were created by my husband and daughter. Being able to layer interviews with sounds is one of the best things about aural delivery, and I had a lot of fun making this one!
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