Splish Splash Splosh!
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Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Adept English is aimed at helping you increase your understanding of spoken English. Doing lots of listening will increase your fluency also and teach you about pronunciation too. If you’ve listened before, then you’ll know that there is always a transcript, a written version of everything that we release – in PDF format on our website. If you don’t understand everything when you listen, the transcript can be really useful. But as usual, I’ll try to explain the more difficult words to you, in English as we go.
If you haven’t listened before, then listen to this podcast a number of times – perhaps start with five times – and you’ll find as you listen that the words become more familiar. Also check out our website at www.adeptenglish.com – and if you hurry, you’ll still time to register early interest in Course One. You’ll be able to buy it very soon, and if you’ve registered, we’ll give you a discount – that means you pay less!
So today’s podcast! One of the more difficult things about learning English is the number of different words. There are a lot of words in English – but that is one of the things which allows it to be expressive, funny sometimes and it makes it interesting. But don’t be discouraged – you don’t need to know all the words in the English language in order to speak it. The estimate is that 95% of ordinary conversation, ordinary discussion between two people in English, consists mostly of a couple of hundred commonly used words. So when you’re listening to Adept English podcasts, we’re probably covering many of the most commonly used words anyway – even if those bits aren’t the parts that we’re consciously focusing on! So don’t be discouraged by the number of words – you’re learning all the little common words as we go – and bit by bit you’ll learn the less common words too.
So today, I thought I’d give you a bit more of the ‘Helping Hand’, what we refer to in Rule Six from Adept English – have a look at our free course, ‘The Seven Rules of Adept English’ on our website, if you haven’t already. Sometimes in the podcasts I focus on something which English language learners find difficult – like ‘Silent Letters’ I’ve done previously. And today’s subject – Splish Splash Splosh, we’re talking about onomatopoeias!
Now English is full of onomatopoeias – and you probably can think of some in your own language too. Onomatopoeia is an odd word for us English speakers. It’s actually a Greek word originally – and it is the name for words which attempt to sound like what they’re describing. And sometimes onomatopoeias try to describe the feel or the texture using a word. Probably it’s best to give you some examples to show what I mean. There are a lot of onomatopoeias in English, so I’m not going to cover all of them in this podcast, but I’ll give you a few good ones – and perhaps we can do another podcast on some more another time.
So there are lots of words which describe sounds – so from the title, for example SPLASH. Splash usually means that there is water or liquid involved! If you think of the sound of children in a swimming pool or in the sea on a hot day – splashing in water is probably what you’ll hear. If you jump into a swimming pool, the noise you will make is a splash. But splash also refers to liquids being spilt accidentally. If you were using paint to decorate the walls in your house, to change the colour of the wall, you might accidentally splash paint onto the floor. If you were cooking something in a pan, you might use a splash of oil in the pan – say if you were cooking onions or eggs. There are also the words SPLISH and SPLOSH as well, and even SPLOOSH which really mean the same kind of thing. If there is any difference it is that SPLISH is more gentle and a quieter noise, SPLOSH is a bit louder, SPLASH is louder still and kind of refers to the appearance as well, you can have ‘splash marks’. So it’s how it looks as well as the sound. And SPLOOSH would be really dramatic. They are quite interchangeable – that means you can mix them up.
CRUNCH is another one. So it describes a sound again. If you were eating something like a very green apple or a stick of celery and you might crunch. Celery is a long green vegetable which SNAPS when you bend it (there’s another one!). You might also hear crunching if someone was eating crisps or biscuits – that are hard – or sometimes breakfast cereals. In the UK we have a brand called ‘Crunchy Nut Cornflakes’ so it’s even in the name there. Also if you think of lots of little stones, tiny stones which together are called ‘gravel’. Sometimes people put gravel in their driveway or in front of their house. And when you walk on it, again that would make a crunching sound.
SNIFF is another onomatopoeia – so it’s the sound of someone breathing in – more quickly perhaps that a normal breath. It would sound like this [sniff…sniff]. You might SNIFF, if you thought there was a funny smell – (sniff sniff sniff ‘What’s that?’) or you might SNIFF if you had a cold and you needed to blow your nose.
JANGLE is another one. If you have a bunch of keys – say your car key, your house key, and a couple of other keys on a key ring – and you shake them or fiddle with them (fiddle means play with them in your fingers), then the noise they might make would be a JANGLE. I shall demonstrate – JANGLE JANGLE – that’s my car keys, there are quite a lot of keys on there. Basically anything metallic, which makes a sound when you shake it. The coins in your pocket might JANGLE. A similar word is JINGLE. It means almost the same. You might know the song ‘Jingle Bells’ – or you might not. If there is a difference between JINGLE and JANGLE, then probably it’s that JINGLE is a bit more harmonious, a bit nicer noise, whereas JANGLE is a bit discordant, not very musical. The sound of my keys is hardly very musical.
YELP is another sound onomatopoeia. If you imagine accidentally standing on your dog’s tail, then the noise that he might make is a YELP. Any sudden cry of pain, would be a YELP – so it’s the sound that a person or an animal makes when they’re suddenly in pain, when something’s hurt, they YELP.
A particular favourite of mine, another lovely word is SQUELCH. If you went into your kitchen in your bare feet – so bare means no shoes on, no socks on and you accidentally stood on a very soft banana, which someone had left lying on the floor. Then the sound and the feeling of it might be a SQUELCH. Another example – if you went out for a walk and it had rained, you might find that it was muddy. Mud is what happens to the ground when it’s wet with rain and you walk on it. Sometimes you see lots of mud on a rugby pitch – all those big men with their rugby boots have mashed the ground up and made it muddy. And then as you walk across that surface, you are likely to SQUELCH. And SQUELCH describes the feeling and the sensation, as well as the noise.
FIZZ is another one – you might talk about lemonade as FIZZY or say that lemonade FIZZES. So FIZZY is the adjective and to FIZZ is the verb. Usually we use FIZZ for drinks with bubbles in. So carbonated water, champagne, lemonade are all FIZZY. You could also use it of fireworks, which might FIZZ and POP. POP is what your ears might do, if you were in a lift in a tall building – or sometimes when you’re on an aeroplane, your ears POP. POP is also the sound that a champagne bottle cork might make when you POP the cork. So basically, POP is what happens when something is under pressure, and it’s being squeezed and then suddenly it gives way – as in POPcorn. Balloons also POP sometimes. So FIZZ and POP.
Thunder – that’s probably an onomatopoeia in itself. Thunder is the noise you get in the clouds, coming from the sky when there is going to be a rain storm. Usually there is lightning with it. But the word in English, that we would associated with thunder is RUMBLE. So it means a noise, probably some distance away, which is low and vibrating – and possibly a bit threatening. Earthquakes might make a RUMBLING sound, so might trains going overhead say, if you’re under a bridge, or using an Underground train system, like the London Underground or the Paris Metro. When the train is coming, you’ll hear a RUMBLE as it approaches. So RUMBLE usually means a low noise, but it’s coming a bit of from a distance away, it’s not right next to you.
Now I do have two daughters as well as a son, but I tend to talk about my son in my podcasts, because he’s younger and he’s often learning things at school which are relevant to the subjects in my podcasts. So I asked him about onomatopoeias and he has learned them in school. So his suggestions was PLOP. This made us laugh – it’s a little bit associated with toilet humour, but I’ll give you a different example. If you are having a nice trip in a boat along a river. And you go to get out of the boat – and whoops PLOP – your mobile phone falls out of your pocket into the river! PLOP is the sound that it might make. So PLOP is the sound when there’s deeper, stiller water – and the object falling into it is smaller. Not quite as dramatic as SPLASH.
OK, that’s probably enough for now. We’ll come back to onomatopoeias again because there are so many of them. English is full of them and they’re such nice words. I’ll speak to you again next week, when I hope to have news of our first course, which is going to be released soon. Goodbye.