poot, toot, bu.

One of the first tenants of linguistics is that linguistic signs are arbitrary. By this, linguists mean that there is nothing about a book that requires it be called book and not hon, shu, libre, or horse. Well, mostly arbitrary, anyway.

Onomotopoeia are an obvious exception. I farted while paddling yesterday, and that got me thinking about how many words for farting have an /u/ /a/ /ae/ or similar sound–and very few have an /i/ sound in them. Wikipedia contributes:

add that to your list of biological influences on language.

postscript: I was surprised at how many also had a p (which is closely related to f), and some sort of r. The Pidgin (HCE) fut always seemed much more onomotopoetic than fart to me. Fut may provide a nice hint to fart’s etymology, however: when pronounced by non-rhotic Brits, fart is a big, satisfying faht.


One thought on “poot, toot, bu.

  1. OMG this is HILARIOUS
    and SO TRUE

    in japanese, they say the voiced equivalent of whatever onomatopoeia is supposed to be the ugly sound
    ex: kirakira- gira gira
    kirakira (pretty) gira gira (gaudy)
    thats so insightful, michael!

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