I hope you have enjoyed our survey of sound play in the uncommon words! I am charmed to learn that eighty four of the words – more than 8% of our uncommon words! – were sound-play words such as “Hum, whistle, sh”. Many of those words are repeated, of course: they comprise 316, about one-third of 1% of the total words of the book!
The formation of a word from a sound associated with the thing or action being named; the formation of words imitative of sounds.
The use of echoic or suggestive language
I began with the idea that sound-play words would be light and funny, and that I would be able to tag and track them to identify light-hearted passages. Then a leaf rustled and the dragon hummed. This poetic technique quite simply adds sensation to each scene, intensifying the mood. Sometimes Tolkien even uses the onomatopoeic words to create tone – brightening the scariest parts of his children’s bedtime tale.
Alert Word Fans will see that I captured a few more sound-play words after this post – they are included in this post’s total.
“onomatopoeia, n.” OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 29 May 2015.