Hullaballoo (noise)

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by ThomasK, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Have you also noticed already that some 'noise words' seem opaque and/but sound very special ?

    'Hullaballoo' is one in English (hallo + Scottish lullaby ?),
    'Radau' in German,
    'Lawaai' in Dutch ( [lɑ'wa.ɪ]), just noise

    I think these are synonyms:
    - 'fuss' in English
    - 'Klimbim' (with a short English /ee/) in German )

    Some others:
    'Hubbub' in English (a multitude of speakers)
    'Tumult' in E, G, Dutch, I think...

    All of these seem to have some funny or unusual sound, I think, sounding un-English, un-German perhaps, or at least we do not recognize a common word in it. (I think that is true of other negative words (like dubbing names) as well, but let's focus on the noise words, and words referring to talking and making noise, but without any useful purpose (or so it seems).
    If you have an explanation for the phenomenon or an etymological explanation that is fine, but not the main thing: it must be somewhat strange and have some special or pleasant sound in your language...
  2. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Finnish: häly, melu, hälinä, metakka, elämöinti, pälinä, äläkkä, älämölö (I like this one! :D Try it: ['æ.læˌmø.lø])

    The last four ones sound very strange, indeed. Only few of them contain recognizable words: häly, melu = noise, elämä = life, pälättää = to prattle.
  3. amikama

    amikama sordomodo

    If I got your question correctly, the word in Hebrew is טררם (tararam). According to my dictionary, it's an onomatopoeia of Yiddish origin.
  4. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Indeed, that is a perfect word, Amikana! And as for Finnish: it begins to sound like an Indian firedance scream indeed ! ;-)

    Just one more thing, S : I am just wondering about häly, melu, elämä, pälättää... Are they used in other contexts too ? Our lawaai reminds me of 'waaien' , the blowing of the wind, but they la- can hardly be considered a separate word in Dutch. So there is something strange about it. So: are they quite common, used as the basis of other derivations ?

    'Elämä', life, reminds me of the word 'leven' in my dialect: 'leven maken' with us is simply to make noise !!! That sounds strange, although 'alive and kicking' = 'alive and making noise' ? This might be like a philosophical argument, but OK, I just mention it.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  5. enoo Senior Member

    French - France
    Well, tumult does not sounds that weird to me :p (at least, I don't think it's worst than "catapult" and such, pronounciation-wise)

    in French: Ramdam /ʁam.dam/
    I always thought it was an onomatopea for a kind of drum-roll (a bit like the Hebrew word tararam I guess), but according to wiktionary it comes from Arab 'Ramadan', because the evenings/nights of that month were rather noisy.
    Murmure (murmur) sounds a bit weird too, I think that one is really an onomatopea turned into a word.
    I almost forgot tohu-bohu, that one really sounds strange, (and once again, according to wiktionary, it seems to come from the name given to the "original chaos" in the Hebrew bible)

    A word I found funny in English is squeak, to me that's just the sound of a squeaking :)

    (And happy end of year celebrations everyone)
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  6. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting issue: is a word somehow weird ? I thought of this: there is no link with any other Latin word we (well, I) know... But it might be interesting to challenge one another on the degree of 'weirdness' of a word. (Is any word not weird ? But that is a question at the Cultural issues forums... ;-)

    Squeak is funny indeed, but it is a descriptive word to me, with not too much of a negative connotation (except for people who do not like high pitches ?).

    I am wondering: can one say 'I make [elämä, ramdam, a hullaballoo, lawaai, ...]? For the latter the answer is yes. Also for the others ?
  7. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    Häly is actually a term for an "impure", non-pitched sound, but it can refer to any unpleasant (single) sound you hear. As a derived word, hälytin is "a device that makes noise", ie. an alarm.

    Melu is... well... noise. Something that fills the space where you are and makes you want to escape from it.

    Elämä means "life" and is surely used in other contexts. :) "Pälättää" doesn't mean anything else than prattling. The stem pälä- may be onomatopoietic, but I think it doesn't belong to good standard language.

    EDIT: #6, those kinds of structures are rarely used in Finnish, but the one-word-sentence "Elämöin" means just that. However, I would prefer "hälisen", "mölisen", "meluan" or "pälisen", because these are less literal.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2009
  8. enoo Senior Member

    French - France
    Well, actually I just tried to say that this word doesn't seem weird to me, most probably because of its Latin origin, but that it may indeed sound weird to people whose mother tongue is not a romance language.
    (My original sentence was far from being clear, sorry.)

    Well, you basicaly said "weird sounding noise words", but didn't specifically ask for a negative connotation ;)
  9. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I see what you mean, Enoo, but 'noise' is not very positive in itself, is it ? ;-)

    I understand your point of view with regard to 'tumult', but I mainly meant: no words are formed starting from tumult-, whereas none of the words containing posit-, scop-, peri-, para-, etc. (common latin words) would be considered weird, or special to me. You see my point of view ?
  10. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting nuances ! I can guess what you mean by 'häly', would not be able to give any equivalent in Dutch or English (if you could find one, please tell me). Can it be long or short? I just had a look at synonyms of our noise-word and cannot find any of the kind. The sound of an alarm clock is not pleasant here either, but it is just... alarm or bell of the wekker ('waker').

    'Melu' : would that not be 'sound' rather? I would only say I am noisy after a 'heavy' Xmas party with too much booze (I am not an alcoholic !).

    Pälättää: isn't that something like chattering ('kletsen' in Dutch) ? I would not call that a pleasant sound, but that is mainly due to the contents. Or ... ?

    Could you specify the contexts where you can use those 'phrases' ?
  11. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    By looking up synonyms of noise, i bumped into some others. Again fairly strange, in that I do not see a link with the Dutch/ Greek/ Latin (other) words I know: heibel (no root we are familiar with), herrie, trammelant. The point is: we cannot see a direct relationship with any of the words we know, I think.

    Special case: rumoer [ry:'mu:r]. The link with rumour is clear, but with us it is only noise, not some kind of fake message. We do not have the oer-suffix, nor rum-words. The sound is not Latin either, I would say: oer would turn into or, I think. There I'll mention it here, but it seems an isolated case...
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  12. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    As a purely musical term (which it is almost always used as) häly is a non-pitched sound, say, the one you hear when a book drops onto the floor. That's no specific note (sävel) you could play on the piano.

    Häly can be both long or short. I was thinking about the sound of a fire alarm or an ambulance/fire engine (= "alarming vehicles") driving by, because häly is a part of both these words. It is just a stem that people associate with unpleasant sounds.

    In many of the uses of häly- the concept of paying attention seems to be present (but not always!) and I believe you'd be interested in this association. When there's a group of people hälisemässä somewhere, you may immediately want to go and see what's going on. When the group meluaa, they are most likely youngsters rioting and you want to go as far from them as you can.

    When you walk in a busy city, it is a meluisa environment. The opposite example would be a peaceful countryside, something very quiet. Melu is a sound, too, and I believe you would've also been making a lot of melu after the Christmas (which of course you didn't!).

    Just that, but in a more agitated way. Imagine all those hyperactive TV hostesses! Actually, päl(p)ättää is a descriptive word and thightly connected to the word "to talk": puhua pälättää (to talk like a TV hostess). It has just become independent.

    Do you mean the phrases "elämöin", "mölisen" etc.? You rarely want to make noise intentionally, so example contexts may feel a bit artificial (UFO:s are torturing me, I'm shooting a movie, I'm drunk...). :)
  13. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Good morning, Finland. Impressive comments !
    Now, indeed, I don't think we could translate the häly/melu opposition in two verbs, neither in Dutch, nor in English. And somehow I think it is even not perfectly clear therefore what the precise meaning is (sorry !): I checked at Wikipedia and there it is simply translated at noise. I have also been wondering whether there are noises that attract me, for their noise only: your häly attracts people, but why? Would you have an easy clue to solve this ?

    But then: are your Finnish UFO so noisy? We don't see or hear them here !;-)
  14. sakvaka

    sakvaka Senior Member

    ^I think melu is always something frightening and distressing (UFO's) whereas häly is a lively sound, presented in shopping malls, Finnish classrooms and market places. Some people may feel it's negative and they indeed call it melu.

    I have never seen an UFO, but if I were kidnapped by one, it'd surely be I that would make a lot of melu. ;-)
  15. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    Hullabaloo - a din , a racket (in French we say 'tintamarre, bocson)
  16. apmoy70

    apmoy70 Senior Member

    In Greek:
    -Σάλος ('salos, m.), from the ancient «Σάλος» ('salŏs, m.), which described the tossing motion of an earthquake
    -Αντάρα (an'dara, f.), from the ancient verb «ἀναταράσσω» (anata'rassō-->to rouse to frenzy, stir up) which in Byzantine times became «άνταράσσω» (anda'raso) and gave the feminine noun αντάρα
    -Χαμός (xa'mos, m.), from the Hellenistic verb «χαῶ» (xa'ō-->to create chaos) which gave the Byzantine verb «χάνω» ('xano-->to lose), which gave ultimately the noun «χαμός»; colloquially «χαμός» is the most common word used to describe the chaotic sound one hears when lots of people are gathered somewhere talking and making noise, but without any useful purpose

    [x] is a voiceless velar fricative, known as the hard ch
  17. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I encountered some others in French: brouhaha, wacharme... The funny thing is that the latter appears to have been copied from Dutch...

    Suddenly I also thought those were chaotic words, in the sense that they are "beyond [rational] control [i.c. analysis]"...
  18. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    In French I've never heard of 'wacharme,' though perhaps in the North of France they might say it there. Here are some more words that mean a lot of noise and confusion - raffut, boucan, ramdam (as given above), barouf, tintouin, charivari, vacarme, chambard, tapage.....
  19. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
  20. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    As for wacharme: I might have misspelled it, due to the fact that I found out the basis was Dutch. However: vacarme is what I meant.The ones that fit in best as for their 'un-understandability' might be charivari, tintouin, but they're all fine of course!
  21. franc 91 Senior Member

    English - GB
    I think I'd better explain that there is a cultural dimension to the word charivari. In the Midi (ie South of France) traditionally when an old man married a young girl in the village, it was used to mean the noise made by the younger or other men in the village below their bedroom windows during the night following the wedding. They would bang saucepans and anything else they could find to make known their disapproval.
  22. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Great, etymology and metaphors always add extra value to these threads!
  23. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    No, I haven't.
    And I don't understand the question.
  24. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Well, I meant that some noise words like the ones in #18 cannot be analysed straightaway (e.g. etymologically), seem to have no link with other words in the language and therefore just create some sound that we do not associate with meaning (and their phonetic/... structure may even be uncommon...).
  25. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Now I am in the picture.... but will have to think a lot to find a Hungarian word like that...
    But your thread might be a response to this thread...
  26. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    I didn't check whether these words have an etymological explanation but they sound weird enough to give the impression that they don't have any.

    So, in Hungarian you may have (for noise) ricsaj, zsivaj, zenebona* (although zene means music, the word is used to describe chaotic noise which can be connected to music or not at all), (when involving fuss or row): hajcihő, ramazúri, ribillió (when there is just fuss, with less noise or none, still possible): hűhó, cécó.
    For describing a chaotic situation, we also have tohuvabohu (but rarely used).

    *the formation of the word is typical in Hungarian: the first part is a known word and the second - resembling in a twisted way to the first - doesn't mean anything in particular, the whole thing indicates - in a funny way - that there is more to it than what the first word indicates (again, in a twisted way).
  27. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    That might be an excellent observation: the first part often seems recognizable, but then...

    The tohawabohu is the chaos at the beginning of Genesis, I am pretty sure of that, but of course that is a Hebrew word, I suppose, but none probably knows the origin. So there we go again...
  28. Holger2014 Senior Member

    It strikes me that the German noise words are often stressed on the last or last-but-one syllable which is otherwise quite untypical for native words: Radáu (already mentioned), Rabátz, Krawáll, Klamáuk, Gedöns, and the more international terms Tohuwabóhu, Tumúlt.
  29. ilocas2 Senior Member

    Czech words similar to hullaballoo:

    halí belí (from lullaby halí belí, koně v zelí (halí belí, horses in cabbage))

    halabala - slapdash, sloppily, higgledy-piggledy
  30. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Interesting observation, Holger. So they do seem "special" indeed, don't they?
  31. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    Tagalog has ingay for noise, bulabog for disturbing noise and kaluskos for night noise produced by cat walk steps.
  32. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Do they have a special sound, a special structure? It seems to me that bulabog has a special ring, due to that alliteration, etc.
  33. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    嘰嘰喳喳 jijizhazha
    嘰哩呱啦 jiliguala
    嘰嘰咕咕 jijigugu
  34. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    ^I suppose the reduplication in 1 and 3 is special, not common. How about no. 2? In any way "deviant"?
  35. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    ^Sadly no:( They are just random sounds :) They are used to refer to noisy sounds/voices.
    嘰ji is also used on the sound a cicada makes, and 呱gua a frog, 喳zha/咕gu a bird
    嘰/喳/咕 can all refer to whispering, and yet they are used for noisy sound when put together. I guess it's because all the people talking together are like whispering: you can't hear it clearly.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  36. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    Don't worry, that is my point: they don't mean anything really, but they sound in a special way, I think. Sound is more important than meaning...
  37. Messquito

    Messquito Senior Member

    台灣台北 Taipei, Taiwan
    Chinese - Taiwan 中文 Taiwanese Hokkien 臺語
    Indeed. :)
    When I hear "light, bright." I can feel that wide-open voice and bright sound of it; when I hear "doom," I can feel the dark quality of it. They sound as they function; this is a fun aspect of a language :)
  38. irinet

    irinet Senior Member


    I would like to contribute to this very interesting thread, especially that I see here words we use in my language, too.
    So, Romanian has also the words of noise some posters here have mentioned: 'tumult' pointing to anxiety, 'vacarm' that goes directly to the idea of many doers of the noise, and 'murmur', a less sounding noise, even pleasant and soul-relaxing sometimes, more like 'whispers' of people or of nature. We also have 'rumoare' (pointing to a kind of intriguing/dissatisfied kind of low noise in a room or open place filled with people) which is not to be confused with the English 'rumour'.

    And there are also words that firstly denote movement, then either strong or low noise by sound associations like, 'vânzoleală' or 'foşnet'' that gives 'fâş-fâş', or 'pâş-pâş' from 'a păşi' (= to step), 'târâş' from 'a târî' (=crawl).

    Another instance is a rabbit-like jump which is imitated by the strange sounding 'țup-țup'. Where does it come from? It is like 'squeak', very funny sounding, especially for the lack of noise a rabbit does when jumping. So, I really wonder why this repetitive word makes more noise than a rabbit?!
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
  39. ThomasK Senior Member

    (near) Kortrijk, Belgium
    Belgium, Dutch
    I suppose: the more irritating a noise, the more we feel the energy to express it in some direct, semi-onomatopeic w, almost from the belly...

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