One of the classes that I have taken at university here in Perpignan is called Expression française. In class, we focus on many different areas of discussion, but yesterday’s class was quite interesting as we focused on onomatopoeia.
The Oxford dictionary definition of Onomatopoeia: The formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.
E.g. meow, splash, quack, moo, bang
The exercise itself was to translate into French the actions of what was happening in a comic strip which we were given. The comic strip used only onomatopoeic words and images, (including: Driiing driing, floup, zzzzz, CRASH, BLOM, KLOPS, SPLATCH SPLATCH…). The comic strip was of a telephone ringing, and a man who is running out of the shower in order to answer the phone in time, water splashes everywhere, he slips up and bangs into the furniture in his apartment, making a lot of noise.
Onomatopoeia is quite an interesting thing to discuss on here for language learners. Onomatopoeia can be different in foreign languages, so it is therefore something to consider if you want to try to master a foreign language. I first realised this when I went to France to visit a friend when I was 16; when I banged my elbow and it hurt, I shouted ‘ow!’ but my French friend would react by saying ‘aïe!’ It was something I had never even considered before.
For example, in English we would say that a cat goes ‘meow,’ but the French is ‘miaou.’
The sound which is probably the most different in every language is the noise for a rooster:
English: cock a doodle do
The all important question: what sound does a French duck make? Well, it doesn’t go ‘quack,’ instead, it goes ‘coin-coin.’ (I quite like that sound!).