A key component to language is the arbitrariness of a word’s pronunciation and the meaning of a word where the sound of the spoken word does not give the meaning. A word is a sound created with an attached meaning, but with Onomatopoeia the sound is the meaning. The sound of the word is a strictly connected imitation of the sound of the object or natural sound being described. In Onomatopoeia the sound of the word is not arbitrary, but actually conveys the sound of the object.

You can use proper words, or words made-up of combinations of vowels and consonants to represent the sound or event. Each vowel and consonant has its own sound that gives each word a distinct vocalization. We create these distinct sounds from the roughly 44 phonemes in the English language. They form the basic consonants and vowels of our language called graphemes.

PhonemeGraphemeExample Words
1b, bbbug, bubble
2d, dd, eddad, add, milled
3f, ff, ph, gh, lf, ftfat, cliff, phone, enough,
half, often
25a, ai, aucat, plaid, laugh
26er, et, ei, au,
a_e, ea, ey
bay, maid, weight, straight,
pay, foyer, filet, eight, gauge,
mate, break, they
27e, ee, ea, y, ey,
oe, ie, i, ei, eo, ay
end, bread, bury, friend,
said, many

The first three phonemes join to produce graphemes known as consonants, while the last three phonemes produce graphemes known as vowels. Together, when joined into words, they produce the distinction of each word’s vocalization. It can differ across cultural borders as the sound of the language changes.

So basically the restrictive factor in producing onomatopoeia is the 44 phonemes and seemingly endless ways we can join them to produce sound words that create symbolic meaning. Therefore, onomatopoeia is the connection of sound’s mimicry with symbolism reproduced within the context of a language and defined as the imitation of non-vocal sounds through the vocal sounds of language.

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