Follow The Sound: Hebrew Onomatopoeia

Blog | 1 min read
Daniella Tourgeman, Hebrew Teacher
Daniella Tourgeman, Hebrew Teacher

Have you ever heard of the term onomatopoeia? Despite its intimidating sound, it’s surprisingly fun, as it refers to words which describe their meaning via their sound and musicality. Simply put – a word that sounds like the sound it describes!

There are examples of onomatopoeia in every language. In English, for example, the word bubble mimics a bubbling sound. In Hebrew, some of the most well known examples are cork פקק (pkahk) and bottle בקבוק (bahk-book).

Fun fact! The words for rustling רשרוש (reesh-roosh), humming זמזום (zeem-zoom), dripping טפטוף (teef-toof), stuttering גמגום (geem-goom), echoing הדהוד (heed-hood), and chatter פטפוט (peet-poot) are equivalent onomatopoeias in both English and Hebrew! They use specific letters, sounds and tones which resemble the actual action they describe.

Think about it, even if we don’t know a word in Hebrew yet, when we hear or say the word גמגום (geem-goom) we can almost visualize it’s meaning… stuttering, right? By doing so, our mouth, ears, and mind have an easy time communicating.

It is just like that – if we imitate and repeat the words in the same way they were created from imitating real life sounds – Hebrew will become more natural to us.

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