Italian Onomatopoeia Posted by Bridgette on May 30, 2020 in Italian Language
Ciao a tutti!
Today I want to explore the linguistic phenomenon of onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word from a sound associated with that word. It originates from the word ὀνοματοποιία in the Greek language which means ‘making or creating names’, and in English we use it to describe the unique words made to imitate sounds. In Italian, the word is onomatopea.
It is commonly used to describe animal sounds, and in English some examples include woof, hiss, moo, quack, oink, and more. I am sure it comes to no surprise that onomatopoeia differ from language to language, so let’s look at some in Italian.
Le api ronzano – the bees buzz. (zzzzz)
Gli uccelli cinguettano – the birds chirp. (cip cip)
I gatti miagolano – the cats meow. (miao)
Le mucche muggiscono – the cows moo. (muuuuu)
I corvi gracchiano – the crows caw. (cra cra)
I cani abbaiano – the dogs bark (bau bau)
I topi squittiscono – the rats squeak. (squitt squitt)
I serpenti sibilano – the snakes hiss (zssssssss)
For some fun, check out this handy image of how to sound like a dog in 14 languages:
Some other examples of onomatopea include sounds you make while eating and drinking. In English we might see chomp, om nom nom, slurp or glug. In Italian, these sounds are written gnam gnam and glu glu.
Or some bodily functions:
achoo – etciú (to sneeze – starnutire)
burp – rutt (to burp – ruttare)
zzz – ronf, zzz (to snore – russare)
Or what if you hurt yourself in Italy? Well, you would stick out if you yelled ow or ouch. Instead Italians say ahia or ohi.
What are some other onomatopea you know in Italian? There are so many others and they are just another fascinating layer of learning another language and integrating into another culture. Write some examples below!