the meaning of ululate

Discussion in 'English Only' started by annie21, Jul 4, 2011.

  1. annie21 Senior Member

    chinese
    Hello,

    I'd like to know the exact meaning of ululate. I searched for several kinds of dictionaries, but the explanations are different:
    ululate - emit long loud cries; "wail in self-pity"; "howl with sorrow
    Ululation: a long low sound made with your voice
    so, my question is:
    1.ululate is a loud(sharp) sound or a low sound?
    2.Is this word used only for men or can it be used for animals?
    3.Does the meaning of this word vary with the times?
    4. Is the word used orally?

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. pops91710

    pops91710 Senior Member

    Well, I might be setting myself up to show my ignorance, but I have never heard the word before now.
     
  3. pob14 Senior Member

    Central Illinois
    American English
    There's a good definition at Wikipedia:
    There's a sound file with an example there as well.
     
  4. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    2.Is this word used only for men or can it be used for animals? - for anything that makes the sound; it is a description of both the sound and/or how it is made.
    3.Does the meaning of this word vary with the times? I don't understand, do you mean, "how are the tenses conjugated?"?
    4. Is the word used orally? Yes but it is uncommon and technical, I think I've used it once in my life.

    << Audio link deleted. >>

     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2011
  5. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    It's basically a synonym for the word 'howl', which is what its derivative means in Latin.
     
  6. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    It's not the sort of word that one hears frequently, but I remember it from reading books about East Africa (back in the '50s) as a cultural phenomenon among various groups and for differing purposes.
     
  7. kalamazoo Senior Member

    US, English
    It's a certain kind of howling. Probably finding a Youtube video would provide the clearest demonstration, or a sound file. It's not just any old howl!
     
  8. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Here is the OED, with three of its quotations:

     
  9. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    That's surprising. To me, ululation is a high trilling sound when humans make it, like the mourning cry heard in some Arabic cultures to express grief. It's not a howl.
     
  10. Copperknickers Senior Member

    Scotland - Scots and English
    Perhaps people are confusing it with uvulation, the act of vibrating the uvula to produce a trilled sound.
     
  11. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    I think the meaning has changed over time: it seems like it used to be a synonym for "howl," but was then associated with high-pitched mourning cries (and indeed, the mourning cries of North African women are always called "ululations"). So now "ululation" refers pretty specifically to those high, loud, trilled sounds, even when they aren't cries of mourning - my friend, coming from a Yemeni wedding, talked about the women's matrimonial ululations.
     
  12. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    According to the references I have at hand, there's no such word as "uvulation."

    On the other hand, the Urban Dictionary says:

    1. The act of snogging/sucking face so industriously that one runs the very real risk of interfering with the snoggee's uvula - the bit of the soft palate that hangs down at the back of the mouth.
     
  13. gquixote

    gquixote Senior Member

    South Africa
    English
    In South Africa the word is used VERY often. One often hears ululating: mostly women at political rallies, church services and music concerts: "Yilililililililiiiiiiii!!!" :) It's more a form of cheering and celebrating than weeping and wailing. <<Youtube link removed>>
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011

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