Mosquito Whine or Mosquito Screech?

Aline_in_Wonderland

New Member
Russian
So, I was doing a vocabulary test and I came across this one. It's a multiple choice question, with only one possible answer . I'm really baffled by this, because I believe both variants are possible.
Anyway, here's the full question:
I was kept awake for most of the night by the _____________ of a mosquito in my ear.
a) whine
b) moan
c) groan
d) screech
Which one would you guys recommend?

PS Please don't think I'm trying to get a better mark at your expense. This is only my homework, which is not going to be assessed. As a linguist, I'm actually encouraged to research such things and bring them to class.
 
  • Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Welcome to the forums, Aline in Wonderland. :)

    Whether or not your grade depends on it, we still need you to tell us which answer you prefer and to explain your choice before we can discuss it.

    (You might find the dictionary a helpful starting point.)

    Thank you!
     

    Aline_in_Wonderland

    New Member
    Russian
    Hi Nunty,
    Obviously, B and C are incorrect, so I'm left with A and D.
    I'd say mosquito whine.
    Don't ask me why, this one just seems more suitable in this particular case.
    Of course, I looked them up and googled them both before coming here. According to the dictionaries, in this case there isn't much (or any) difference between them. Being a non-native speaker, I think I can't really figure it out myself.
     
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    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    According to our on-site dictionary, screech means "scream" or "shriek". Our definition of whine is not very helpful, I see.

    No, mosquitos don't screech in English; they whine. It is a high pitched, on-going, irritating sound, not particularly loud. "Screech" implies a certain amount of volume.
     

    Aline_in_Wonderland

    New Member
    Russian
    Ooops, I've mixed it all up. I meant mosquito whine in my previous post.
    Thank you very much for helping me out.
    Surprisingly, Google search shows that there is such thing as mosquito screech.
    If I'm getting it right, they mean a shrill sound instead of an incessant high-pitched noise that is implied in my case, right?
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Can you show us a site that offers "mosquito screech" as a description of the sound mosquitos make? I have only found it as the name of computer application that makes annoying, high-pitched sounds.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    No, I apologize. I forgot that you are still too new to post links.

    The name of that application is not an example of the way we talk. It is an exaggeration, probably intended to stress how very annoying the app's sounds are.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    .
    Surprisingly, Google search shows that there is such thing as mosquito screech.
    Using Google as a reference is a common mistake. Google is not an authority on anything, repeat ANYTHING. All Google does is report what others have written, which can be anything from profound knowledge to flights of fancy, just plain ignorance or incoherent ramblings.

    Both "whine' and "screech" are examples of onomatopoeia, i.e. words that sound more or less like the action they describe.

    A "screech" resembles the shrieking noise made by rubbing two pieces of lubricated metal together, such as a railroad train sliding to a stop with wheels locked. - or he sound made by improperly holding chalk while writing on a blackboard.

    "Whine" might be the sound made by a small, high-speed electric motor.

    Which do you think represents the sound of a mosquito hovering by your ear?
     

    Aline_in_Wonderland

    New Member
    Russian
    I do realize google is not a reliable source, that's why I use it only when I need examples. You're right saying it only registers what anyone could have written, but isn't it the real language? I believe that even incoherent ramblings regardless of how far from standard they could be, are, in fact, specific examples of the English language. Besides, dictionaries quickly become outdated, it's not such a bad idea to use google.
    That said, I admit that in this case I should have looked more closely at the search results.
    Now it's quite clear to me why I should say "mosquito whine".
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I may be off in the woods here, but I am used to hearing mosquitoes buzz. If they don't find a blood-filled target, I suppose they might whine. Screech? That's what politicians do when they don't get what they want, just like spoiled children.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I think sound is probably more accurately described as a buzz, but I stick with "whine" because whining is aggravating and so is the sound mosquitos make.
     

    unpelerin

    Member
    American English
    Here's the difference: a whine is one kind of humming noise. A hum is a steady, continuous sound, whether it is soft or loud; and of course all kinds of different words (such as whine and buzz) can and should be used to describe this kind of sound.

    A screech is the kind of noise that is produced when something is grating against something else. Tires screech because the tires are rubbing on the pavement; vocal chords (a person's voice or an animal's cry) screech because they are vibrating against each in a particularly energetic and discordant way.

    "Screeches" can be shorter sounds, bursts of sound, not necessarily continuous (there was a screeching sound and then a moment later, another), and they are much higher-pitched rather than lower-pitched, and they are "rough" rather than "smooth."

    I see that this has been better and more succinctly explained by sdgraham but I'll leave my 2 cents on, here as an affirmation of it.
     
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    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I (also) don't much like either screech or whine. I don't even care for buzz. Whenever I need to describe the noise a mosquito makes I have to do an impersonation: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeechomp.

    My Serious Point (such as it is) is that onomatopeia is a fairly subjective business ... as I say in the introduction to my unpublished paper Boing! crac! boom! What noise does a squirrel make when you thump it?
     

    Bigote Blanco

    Senior Member
    I (also) don't much like either screech or whine. I don't even care for buzz. Whenever I need to describe the noise a mosquito makes I have to do an impersonation: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeechomp.

    My Serious Point (such as it is) is that onomatopeia is a fairly subjective business ... as I say in the introduction to my unpublished paper Boing! crac! boom! What noise does a squirrel make when you thump it?
    Ewie,
    In my unpublished book on animal behavior - when you thump a squirrel, it
    no longer makes any sound!:p
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Ewie,
    In my unpublished book on animal behavior - when you thump a squirrel, it
    no longer makes any sound!:p
    You and ewie need to collaborate on a paper for Kulinary Investigations and Operations Research to discuss the differences in thumping results for parboiled and fried squirrels.
     
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