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Today we’re going to look at onomatopoeia in the German language! The dictionary defines onomatopoeia as ‘the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named (e.g. cuckoo, sizzle ).’ You might already be familiar with some of these words in English: Splash, boom, and many animal noises including miaow. Just like in English, each language has their own onomatopoeic words – let’s take a look at some German ones!
Plitsch-Platsch – To plitter-platter (raindrop noise). Pronounced exactly as it is spelt.
Schlucken – To swallow, glug, swig. Pronounced: shlook-en.
Additionally, in the same way that you’d say A swig of water in English, in German you’d say Ein Schluck Wasser.
Mampf Mampf – To munch/chew. Pronounced exactly as it is spelt.
From the verb mampfen.
Knirschen – To crunch. Pronounced: Knee-er-shen (with a hard K).
When you talk about snow crunching, you say Der Schnee knirscht – The snow crunches.
Hatschi/Hatschu – Achoo (sneezing sound). Pronounced: Hat-chee / Hat-choo.
Schnarchen – To snore. Pronounced: Shnar-chen (chen with ch as a soft, hissing sound- like a cat).
Gähnen – To yawn. Pronounced: Gehh-nenn, with an elongated ä sound that makes it sound like a yawn!
Piep Piep – To cheep (bird noise). Pronounced: Peep peep.
Töröö – Elephant trumpeting sound. Pronounced: Imagine you come across something disgusting and you exclaim errhh! That is roughly how the ö sounds in this word. Terhh-erhh.
Klingeln – To ring (phone). Pronounced exactly as it is spelt.
In English the sound of a ringing phone goes ring ring or bring bring. In German, it goes kling kling or kling-a-ling!
Schlürfen – To slurp. Pronounced: Shloo-er-fen.
Hochwürgen – To throw up/regurgitate. Pronounced: Horch-woo-er-gen (soft ch in hoch, like hissing cat).
Rutschen – To slip. Pronounced: root-shen (oo in root is short – pronounced like oo in English word foot)
Kuckuck – Cuckoo. Pronounced: Kook-kook.
What’s onomatopoeia called in German, by the way? It is called die Onomatopoesie. But it also goes by other names, including die Lautmalerei (‘the loud painting’) and die Klangnachahmung (‘the sound imitation’).
Can you think of any more onomatopoeic German words? Leave a comment! If I get enough, I’ll write a second post on it! 🙂
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