Saturday, December 30, 2006

is there such a thing as sense onomatopoeia?

I find the word obese has a kind of “sense onomatopoeia” in that it sounds like what it is. Of course I don’t mean onomatopoeia in the normal sense of evoking a sound like slurp or thump. But when you look at someone very very overweight the word just clicks. Having studied linguistics I know this is all association with little if anything objective about it. Still, maybe it’s the long O? Or maybe it’s the plosion of –bese, like something being blown up. Or when you see pictures of some poor guy who can't get out of bed and the word obese throws your mind the subconscious bridge to beast. I’m sure I’m offending half a million people. I don’t mean to. Just musing. I hesitate to do this but if you look at these pictures, you can test the idea.

Are there any other words like that? That sound like what they are? Languor is one, in my opinion, and maybe ease and glimmer. Astonish?


Anonymous said...

The word "blue" - probably because of the homonym, the cloudless sky, and the final long-drawn ooooh.

Anonymous said...


I can't believe you would link to a picture of my mother in law, and then imply she looked like a capital O.

SarahJane said...

haha, you silly.
i like the blue idea, but there are so many blues, carl.

Anonymous said...

I haven't thought about this in years, but as a child I saw numbers as male or female beings if you will. It's quite strange I know, but I thought of it immediately after reading your post.

SarahJane said...

hi ellegee,
yes, in my mind all the odd numbers are up to 10 are male and all the even, except 6, are female. it gets complicated with numbers like 21 and 38 and upward, etc, which have more than one numeral in them. i kind of think we all think that, since the evens are "round" and the odds "straight." but maybe just you and i are crazy. smile

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