Vrooooom! · 30 June 2018

Apparently, we all talk with our own sound effects.

I never really noticed it until I laughed at my wife for doing it, but people talk with sound effects more than I would have guessed. Her reply to my laugh was, “Doesn’t everybody talk like that?” I did not have an answer. Instead, I just started listening to people.

What I noticed is that people really do make their own sound effects.


These simple onomatopoeia do not do the actual sound effects any justice. For how can you really make that sound of a person strafing the beach? “Rat-a-tat-tat!” does not show the person’s cheeks filled with air as he pushes that same air out of his mouth and stops it rhythmically by pressing his tongue to the top of his mouth. Or more accurately, presses his tongue to the top of his mouth and lets out quick bursts of air by pulling it away. You have certainly heard the sound during a conversation and it does not sound like “Rat-a-tat-tat!”

I guess that is why the written word sounds so much different than spoken conversations. You simply cannot create a word for every sound effect that people speak with. Regardless of the thought that the word onomatopoeia implies that we can make any sound into a word that sounds like the sound.

Thinking about onomatopoeia takes me back to my own childhood. We used to watch 1960s Batman TV show, and even though it is cheesy, I still love to see the visual effects they used when fighting the bad guys. “Kapow! Wham! Bang!” Again, the sound words (how many times can I use onomatopoeia) do not do the real sounds justice, but we still loved the show.

I know I have strayed from the topic a bit, but then again, maybe not. For I suppose we do the same thing the old Batman series used to do. We insert sounds into our conversations all the time. We know people are familiar with them so it is easier to mimic the sound of a jet flying overhead than it is to say, “the roar of the jet.” It is easier to just go “Vrooooom!” instead of saying “the sound of the car rushing by at 100 miles per hour.” It would be fun to have those Kapow! Wham! and Bang! graphics show up when we talked too, but we simply do not get to have talking or thinking bubbles above our heads like they do in the comics. At least not with current technology.

There are surely people out there who do not make their own sound effects during conversations. Just as there are people out there who do not make appropriate gestures or move their bodies or hands when they talk. Yes, conversation without sound effects does exist. But after observing for a while, most of the people I know talk with their own sound effects. “Vroooooom!”

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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