Saturday, May 5, 2007

The visual equivalent for "onomatopoeia"

I went to church last Sunday with my mom. It's been awhile. Going to church is a lot more like staying at home and watching church on television than it used to be. There are power point presentations and music videos and the like. My favorite thing about church was a lady who signed a hymn, while the lyrics ran on a power point presentation behind her for those of us who don't understand sign language.

I assume that most of the words in sign language are rather "onomatopoeiac," or that they do have some visual representation of the word they represent. Whoever invented the sign for "hallelujah" did an excellent job. "Hallelujah" looks like a party! It starts off with a clap, and then there is a spiraling upwards gesture with both hands, and it ends with that now classic charasmatic christian gesture of the palms upturned to the heavens, as if to say "High Five God!"

So I ask you, is there a visual equivalent of onomatopeia? (Good band name "Visual Onomatopoeia." ) And of course, no converstaion about onomatopeia is complete, to my mind, without referencing the West Wing episode when Sam heads off some sort of crisis with the Russians, based on the fact that the Russian ambassador knew the meaning of the word onomatopoeia, but not the word "frumpy."


Jim Tschen Emmons said...

Since this falls under "general dorkiness" I felt I had to give it a shot ;-)

If "onomatopoeia" dervies (via Latin) from Greek "onomatopoios," a "coiner of names," which comes from the words for "name" and "make," then may I suggest:

theama + poiein = "theamapoeia" OR

"spectacle/sight maker" [sight here as in to view one not possess the ability obviously]

I like "spectacle" (Gr. "to theama") because it gives a sense of jazz, of wow, etc.

So charted...

Steve Verhey said...

I was just writing a note to a friend who had a mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction, and I realized that the word 'boob' could be a visual onomatopoeia. So I googled visual onomatopoeia and here I am.

Ben XO said...

I also ended up here by googling for visual onomatopoeia, after realising that the word 'awkward' is all elbows and knees.

Unknown said...

I don't know, the term Iconicity, specifically vowel magnitude relationships might suit the concept that you called 'visual onomatopoeia.'

It says that open vowel sounds are more likely associated with round shapes (e.g. ball, bottle,), whereas closed vowel sounds are more likely associated with pointed shapes (e.g. pin), etc.

You know, when you say 'ball', you have to open your mouth wide, so it contains open vowel and is associated to round shape. And when you say 'pin' you don't have to open your mouth wide, so it contains closed vowel and is associated to the pointed shape.

It's just a theory and is not applicable to any situation. for more detail, you can check out the following link.

Unknown said...

I was looking up the same....and came accross a much better suggestion, that iconicity is not truly descriptive and in fact Onomotopoeia is frankly too exacting in some respsects.
phonomatopoeia (vocal-auditory)
manumatopoeia or visonomatopoia (manual-visual)
iconomatopoeia (visual-written, e.g. Chinese characters), and pictonomatopoeia (e.g. pictographs)

Excellent evaluation and requires only that the thoguht proccess be followed to natural conclusion to reate or choose the correct descriptive word.

Here is the direct reference that I found.