I wrote this essay for ‘Intro to Linguistics’ course. Don’t plagiarize. It would be bad for both of us, mostly for you.

Onomatopoeia is a phenomenon where words of a language sound like the events they describe or at least imitate the sound. Onomatopoeia defies the arbitrariness aspect of human language.

Consider the case of cats ‘meowing.’ For this discussion, ‘meow’ means the sound a cat makes when it is happy. We could have called it anything else other than a ‘meow.’ Arbitrariness feature of human language would have allowed us to refer to the sound a cat makes as a ‘reddit.’

I speak ‘Kau Bru’ natively, which means the language of the ‘Bru’ people. It is a language of the Tibeto-Burmese origin. An example of an Onomatopoeic word in my tongue would be to describe the sound and feeling that you get when you run the sharp edges of knives against each other. Natively, we call it ‘Shru Shru’, which is the sound that the knife edges make.

If you listen to the sound closely, you will get the feeling that some sharp object is piercing your heart, accompanied by goosebumps. It is hard to describe this precisely in English, but my language allows me to explain it succinctly. It is, in this case, an Onomatopoeic word.

Another example would be ‘Srusa’ to describe the process/way a duck ingests food. It imitates the sound of a duck consuming fluidic food. The word used for the event is not arbitrary.

Kau Bru: “Mkha Shru Shru wngha lei.”
English: “It feels like someone is piercing my heart [because of the sound of two knife edges rubbed against each other].”

Kau Bru: “My Srusa ye tachadi.”
English: “Don’t eat rice like a duck.” or “Don’t make sounds like a duck while you’re eating rice.”

Looking at the above examples, it is evident that Onomatopoeia occurs mostly in verbs.

P.S.: Don’t eat like a duck please.

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