Sunday, May 21, 2017

Last night as I was making dinner (sauteed chicken breasts breaded with fresh crumbs and parmesan, oven-roasted potatoes in duck fat, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil), I decided that clank may be the top word in the English language in the category of "words that sound exactly like what they describe but also work very well as words." Of course, there are other good words in this category, such as buzz and boom, but I think clank is special because it takes into account the volume and pitch of the imitated sound as well as the sound's aural shape. Buzz makes an excellent buzzy noise but it doesn't differentiate between the varieties of buzz: e.g., the low hum of a hive of bees versus the high-pitched hum of a gnat. Boom enacts the open-ended whoosh of an explosion but not its deafening resonance. Clank, however, is exactly like a clank.

I also think sneeze is pretty good, although humans and animals have a variety of sneezes--including, for instance, the painful un-sneeze-like version that some people exhibit, when they seem to swallow the sound instead of exhaling it.

I'm eager to hear your arguments against clank. What have you got that's better?

5 comments:

Ruth said...

i do not have an argument against CLANK. I feel you have made a tight case for it. I'd like to submit the SQU words for consideration: squelch; squoosh; squirt among others.

David X. Novak said...

Clunk?

Dawn Potter said...

To my ear, clunk, while excellent, doesn't have the full echo of a real-life clunk. Maybe clank works because a clank doesn't necessarily echo; it's a brief metallic honk.

And I like the squ- words. Squish is very squishy.

Andrea Adams said...

Not to take anything away from 'clank,' but I would add 'fizz' and 'crackle' (with its satisfyingly crisp consonants) to the pile.

Dawn Potter said...

I agree: crackle is especially nice.