Friday, January 25, 2013

The 嗡嗡 (wēng wēng) of Your Complaints

Over the last few weeks, I have had a wonderful time talking to Chinese friends about the differences in onomatopoeia (拟声) between English and Mandarin. 

I have never seen so much complaining about the cold weather as I have this week. People--not normal people, but New Hampshirites--are complaining that it is -10°F. Tonight it will be -33°F here in Changchun and the sky is not blue. In English, we might say, "Waaaaah." The weng-weng sound in my title is a droning, humming, buzzing noise.

Every post complaining about the weather is like a mosquito biting me, "." (Ding!)

Want to learn the other sounds of animals in Chinese? Visit my favorite Chinese language-learning website to quiz yourself: http://blog.nciku.com/blog/en/2010/12/17/animal-sounds-in-chinese-onomatopeia/

In researching this article, I found a wonderful post from The Confused Laowei. In it, he reminds us that Snap, Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies-fame have different monikers in various tongues:

English: “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”
Swedish: Piff! Paff! Puff!
German: Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Mexican: Pim! Pam! Pum!
Finnish: Riks! Raks! Poks!
Canadian French: Cric! Crac! Croc!
Dutch: Pif! Paf! Pof!
Afrikaans: Knap! Knaetter! Knak!

I hope the weather gets better, but at least the ice on Lake Winnipesaukee will be heard this winter, "轰隆 [hōnglóng]!" That is the rumbling sound of freezing lakes, distant battles, and far-off thunder.

Additional Sources: 
http://www.chinese-tools.com/chinese/vocabulary/list/130/onomatopoeias.html 
http://www.chinesedic.com/?q=onomatopoeia&Submit=Search&langue=EN