1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Onomatopoeia

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25792691911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 20 — Onomatopoeia

ONOMATOPOEIA, literally the making or formation of words (Gr. ὀνοματοποιία, from ὄνομα, name, ποιεῖν, to make), hence a term used in philology for the formation of words by imitation of natural sounds, e.g. “hiss,” “hush,” “click.” Modern philologists prefer the term “echoism,” “echoic” for this process, as suggesting the imitative repetition of the sounds heard. At one time there was an exaggerated tendency to find in echoism a principal source in the origin and growth of language, ridiculed as the “bow-wow” theory of language; it is now recognized that it has played only a limited part.