gnashing creak

  • dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The fact is that my Ru-En dictionary sometimes gives many English words as equivalents for a Russian one. Of course, each of them has its own nuance. I was just wondering if they could be used together. What about squeaking creak? Does not all creak squeak?
     

    Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    Gnashing is what teeth do, so to use it with "creak" sounds ridiculous. Also I think of a "creak" as quite a quiet noise, whereas "gnash" would imply a rather loud, violent noise.

    Creak is onomatopaeic, so are gnash and squeak, so using those words together as you suggest would also be a bit odd, though you could still use them in the same sentence, for effect. I think the problem I have is that "squeak" and "creak" and "gnash" are completely different sounds, so it would be odd to use them closely.

    I also have doubts about "let out" in your original sentence, as that doesn't really go with "creak" either.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I actually think it's what one does with one's teeth, rather than what the teeth do. And I also think the gnashing is not something the creak is doing but rather indicating what effect the creak has on one, like flesh-tingling yell.
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Hallo, Ann.
    Gnashing is what teeth do, so to use it with "creak" sounds ridiculous. Also I think of a "creak" as quite a quiet noise, whereas "gnash" would imply a rather loud, violent noise.
    Don't you think that you contradict yourself? I've never heard teeth gnash loudly :)


    Creak is onomatopaeic, so are gnash and squeak, so using those words together as you suggest would also be a bit odd, though you could still use them in the same sentence, for effect.
    What would you change in my sentence to add some "literary" effect? I mean, imagine it's a detective story.



    I also have doubts about "let out" in your original sentence, as that doesn't really go with "creak" either.
    It begins to resemble the Russian forum: different natives, different opinions ;) What's wrong with let out?

    let out (adverb, mainly ) 1) to give vent to; emit to let out a howl (Collins dictionary)
     

    Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    TT, you are quite right, teeth don't gnash themselves! :D That said, I can't imagine a creak having a gnashing effect, either on me or anyone else... (would a blood-curling yell be more effective than a flesh-tingling one?)

    Back to the original question, dec-sev, what is actually happening with the door? Is it crashing open loudly, with a violent movement, or is it being sinister (imagine a 1960s horror film) and slowly creaking open with a menacing sound? What effect does the door have on you? Do you jump in fright (as with my first suggestion) or does a shiver run down your spine (as with my second)?

    I'll be happy to give you some suggestions but only if I can first understand what effect you're trying to get. :)
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I'll be happy to give you some suggestions but only if I can first understand what effect you're trying to get. :)
    It's neither the first nor the second. Do you know the sound of plastic foam rubbed against the glass? It's very unpleasant. I don't know how to describe it. :) Here I'm talking about the effect the sound of the opening door has on me. As for the sound itself, suppose, the hinges are rusty and the door creaks when opens.
     

    Ann O'Rack

    Senior Member
    UK
    UK English
    The sound you describe could possibly be "screech".

    I'm sad enough to have been thinking about your noisy door this afternoon (would I be insensitive so suggest you just oil the darn thing! ;) ) and I have come up with some suggestions.

    Rather than just a plain, boring "open" as the verb, use something that is either onomatopaeic or atmospheric. If it's a heavy door, then maybe "the door swung open", or "the door creaked open", but then how did it open - slowly, menacingly, threateningly, noisily, quietly? Some other way?

    This is turning into a stylistic lesson rather than a discussion of whether the words are right or not, so I think I'll stop now, but I hope you get the ideas.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As a matter of interest I found someone else using the phrase here

    A mother with a stroller appears at the foot of the stairs leading up to the train platform. The child is gnawing on a balloon with his sharp little teeth. The teeth slide off the rubber and make a kind of gnashing creak—a sound I couldn't stand just a few years ago.

    Notice that in this case we are dealing with teeth sliding off rubber - I think this does much to justify the gnashing, Dec-sev.

    I think there's nothing wrong at all with 'let out', but I'd prefer a comma after opened.
     

    dec-sev

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you for the stylistic lesson, Ann ;) Just an opinion: “the door opened menacingly” has become a cliché long ago. If I were a writer I would never write this. :)
    @Thomas Tompion: Thanks for “let out” explanation.
     
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