Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
- grunt / grʌnt / (n.) – a short, low sound that comes from the back of the throat
The children ran away when they heard the pig’s grunt.
- growl / graʊl / (n.) – a low, deep sound that often shows anger
The wounded dog gave a low growl whenever the rescuers tried to approach it.
- groan / groʊn / (n.) – a long, deep sound that shows disapproval, pain, etc.
Jessica let out a groan of frustration when her boss called her on a holiday.
- rumble / ˈrʌm bəl / (n.) – a continuous, deep, rolling sound
I think it’s going to rain; I can hear the rumble of thunder.
- drizzle / ˈdrɪz əl / (n.) – rain falling in small, light drops
It’s just a drizzle. I don’t think we need an umbrella.
Read the text below.
Continued from Part 1…
Onomatopoeia words are great ways to describe how a person sounds when they talk. Words beginning with “gr” — like “grunt, growl and groan” — tend to indicate harder sounds that come from the back of the throat. “I asked my teenage son to get up for school. He groaned that he was too tired to get up.” “The men grunted as they tried to lift the heavy table.” On the other hand, words beginning with “mu,” like “mumble and murmur,” are spoken softly or without moving the lips much. “Eventually, my son got up and mumbled something to say he was ready for school.”
Sounds from nature are common onomatopoeia words — the rustle of leaves, the whoosh and whizz of wind, the gentle flutter of the wings of a bird, the flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder. Drip, drop, pitter patter, drizzle, dribble, sprinkle and splash all express the sound of water and rain. Can you imagine what the water is doing from the sound of the word?
Just like in Japanese, there is a rich variety of informal onomatopoeia found in cartoons. You can imagine the fight between two characters with words like “Pow! Smash! Boom! Blam! Kaboom!” The bad guy falls to the ground with a loud “thud!”
Try using onomatopoeia when speaking English with your friends for dramatic or poetic effect.
This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
- The author suggests trying to use onomatopoeia when speaking English with your friends for dramatic or poetic effect. What do you think about that suggestion (ex. it’s a good idea, it’s kind of embarrassing)? Why? Discuss.
- Words beginning with “gr” — like “grunt, growl, and groan” — tend to indicate harder sounds that come from the back of the throat, while words beginning with “mu,” like “mumble and murmur,” are spoken softly or without moving the lips much. Do you think knowing how words are produced will help you easily guess or understand their meaning? Why or why not? Discuss.
- What was the last thing that you groaned about (ex. work, an annoying person)? Why? Discuss.
- Do you know anyone who mumbles a lot? How do you feel about that? Why? Discuss.
- What sounds from nature do you enjoy (ex. the rumble of thunder, the pitter patter of rain)? Why? Discuss.
- Have you ever heard a loud kaboom or thud in real life? What was it? Discuss.