the embodiment of onomatopoeia

March 28, 2008

on March 28, 2008 at 5:51 pm, Wes wrote:

Could you perhaps explain the how one could embody onimonipia?

thank you.


No, thank you. Recently, we here at phi·lo·blog·y have received numerous requests (such as the one included above) from our dedicated E-patrons concerning the embodiment of onomatopoeia (“eia” to be pronounced “ayah” as in “Yayah!” or “playa”). But before we launch into such philosophical acrobatics, let’s define our terms:

on·o·mat·o·poe·ia [n.]
1. a poetic device wherein the phonetic signifier mimics the signified (archaic)
2. a way of life


Onomatopoeia first came into regular use through the 1960s action-adventure T.V. series Batman, starring Adam West as Batman/Bruce Wayne, in which it’s viewership was regularly served with (or subjected to) a plethora of poorly choreographed fight scenes against villains such as the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. In order to compensate for Mr. West’s absurd lack of flexibility, editors chose to insert insert still-screens containing a single word in large, exclamatory font indicating the degree of force to which Batman was pummeling his adversaries. For example, as actor West feebly attempted to deliver Batman’s mighty right-hook to the Joker, at the precise moment of impact the word “Pow!” “Zok!” or “Whamm!” would briefly appear on the T.V. screen. Thus, popular onomatopoeia was born.

Such representations of onomatopoeia, while initially amusing, are soon seen as silly and jejune. But this is not the only way that one may conceive of onomatopoeia.

As defined above, onomatopoeia is a way of life, a philosophy to be embodied in and through one’s everyday thoughts and actions. Embodying onomatopoeia is no easy task. Here are a few steps that you can take to practice (and, like any other practice – medicine, for example – it takes a life-long dedication) the embodiment of onomatopoeia:

  1. Let your actions always perfectly fit your thoughts. For instance, if you are mad at your friend Bob, you should not calmly explain to him, “Bob, I’m angry with you.” Instead, let your anger genuinely flow through your words and actions. Begin with “You suck, Bob!” and even follow-up with a kick or two to the groin if it will further unify the relationship between your thoughts and actions.
  2. Always express your actions verbally, wherever you are. [beginner] When walking into a building, say, “I’m walking into a building right now.” [intermediate] When chewing on a sumptuous spoonful of Count Chocula cereal, remark, “I am currently enjoying a delectable mouthful of synthetically-enriched oats and freeze-dried flavored lard.” [advanced] When delivering a swift kick to Bob’s groin, proclaim, “I am severely injuring Bob’s groin right now.”

There are many other steps on the satisfying road towards the embodiment of onomatopoeia, but these two should be enough to keep the beginner occupied for well over 1 or 2 years, as it takes some time for them to feel natural and for the embodier to come to terms with the social estrangement that may ensue.