Using words to make a noise

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am

MANY of YOU may have noticed that words make noises. Some words actually do sound a bit like their meaning.

Did you hear the brakes of that car screeching on the wet road surface? The sound of the verb 'to screech' sounds like the action it is describing. Can you hear the clatter of dishes in the kitchen? Don't you think that 'clatter' sounds like the noise of dishes being banged together?

Look at the 10 sentences below. They all contain the word 'noise'. But this is a bit of a boring word and it tells us nothing at all about the sound that is being made. Can you replace the word 'noise' with a more descriptive word? Here is an example:

I can hear the noise of a bell in the distance.

I can hear the clang of a bell in the distance.

'Clang' is a much more interesting and descriptive word than plain old 'noise'. The 'clang' of a bell sounds like the sound the bell is making if you use your imagination a bit.

Look at the 10 'noisy' words in the next column. Use each of them to make the 10 sentences more interesting.

tick / crack / hubbub / sizzling / sighing / rumble / pitter-patter / lapping / blast / popping

1. There was silence in the room. All you could hear was the noise of a clock.

2. Everyone stopped. They had heard the noise of an explosion in the next street.

3. Mum was preparing dinner. The noise of chicken in the wok made me very hungry.

4. The noise of the sea on the sand made me feel very calm.

5. The noise of a whip made me wake up quickly.

6. They opened many bottles of champagne. The noise of corks made everyone smile.

7. The noise of thunder in the distance told us that a storm was approaching.

8. The noise of the wind in the bamboo trees broke the silence of the forest.

9. We could hear the noise of raindrops falling outside on the window.

10. We heard the noise of voices in the next room but we could not tell what they were saying.

Which do you think is the better of the two words in brackets to make the sound in each of the following sentences?

11. I could hear the (ticking/clucking) of hens in the farmyard.

12. The (creak/buzz) of a door hinge woke me from my sleep. Someone had come into my bedroom.

13. The (barking/grunting) of the dog in the flat next door keeps me awake all night.

14. The (chug/popping) of the engine on the ferry boat made me fall asleep.

15. The (chiming/blasting) of the church clock told us it was time to leave.

16. I think the (purring/barking) of a cat is a very happy sound.

17. Can you hear the (rumble/hubbub) of a train in the distance?

18. The (wail/sighing) of a siren told us the typhoon was getting nearer.

19. The (hoot/tick) of a car horn made me jump.

20. When will the (screaming/popping) of those seagulls stop? It is giving me headache.

Answers: 1. tick 2. blast 3. sizzling 4. lapping 5. crack 6. popping 7. rumble 8. sighing 9. pitter-patter 10. hubbub 11. clucking 12. creak 13. barking 14. chug 15. chiming 16. purring 17. rumble 18. wail 19. hoot 20. screaming