spelling "gasp"

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tav

New Member
USA - English
I want to start a piece using the inhaled sound of a gasp, but can't think of how to actually write it.

Not: I gasped in horror.
But: the sound of a gasp, the sound of the inhalation

For example a sigh could be written as "ahhhhh." High heeled shoes on the floor could be written as "click, click, click."

How would you write a "gasp?"

Thanks.
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Ghuahh!!:eek:

    Welcome to WR, tav.
    This is a somewhat unusual request for these forums, but game for anything, there is my understanding of how to write a gasp of horror.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    panjandrum said:
    Ghuahh!!:eek:

    Welcome to WR, tav.
    This is a somewhat unusual request for these forums, but game for anything, there is my understanding of how to write a gasp of horror.
    If you happened to be gasping while drowning, I suppose.;)

    Sorry, that's not very helpful I know:eek: . I can't think of how I would write that - I don't think we have anything standard for this in English, we just write "he gasped" "he said on a sharp intake of breath" etc.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    timpeac said:
    If you happened to be gasping while drowning, I suppose.;)

    Sorry, that's not very helpful I know:eek: . [...]
    I can't recall ever having seen a written version of a gasp of horror, so I developed that particular version of the written gasp from personal research.
    You need to vocalise Ghuahh!! with an sudden inward breath.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    panjandrum said:
    I can't recall ever having seen a written version of a gasp of horror, so I developed that particular version of the written gasp from personal research.
    You need to vocalise Ghuahh!! with an sudden inward breath.
    I just did, and people have asked me if I have pleurisy...;)

    Sorry - I'm just joking, yes on an intake of breath your ghuahh is quite a good approximation.:)

    Tav - note that whatever you come up with, I don't think people are necessarily going to guess what you are trying to represent on reading this word (as opposed to say "hmmm" or "ahhh" being scepticism and realisation respectively, which are known representations).
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Tav - I agree completely with Timpeac's comment.

    As far as I know, there is no standard way of writing a gasp of horror, so you will need to set the scene and make sure that your readers are not unduly distracted from your plot development by their fascination with your brilliance in writing the gasp.

    Slowly, Tav opened the kitchen door - listening intently for any sounds of movement.
    He was completely unaware of Timpeac's sinister presence in the corner by the washing machine.
    Flicking on the light switch, Tav jumped onto the table, his eyes darting into every rat-infested corner.
    "Ghuahh!!" he gasped, in horror, as Timpeac snarled towards the table, his features distorting in territorial rage, his sinewy arms brandishing the samurai carving knife dripping with beetroot juice and mayo from his vegetarian sandwich.
     

    deserthaze06

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    In most literature, you will see it actually written "gasp."
    Ex.: "Gasp! What are you doing here?"
     

    duder

    Senior Member
    USA/English
    deserthaze06 said:
    In most literature, you will see it actually written "gasp."
    Ex.: "Gasp! What are you doing here?"
    I agree. Another option might be to indicate the gasp parenthetically, like this: (gasps).
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Œuhhhhghh!
    Œehhh!
    Œughhhk!

    Something like that?

    A more masculine version, conveying a little indignation:

    Ǽhhhhghk!
    Ǽuhhhgh!

    Gosh I have fun with this stuff.

    I also put the exclamation point in the midst of some words, instead of the end.

    "She ts!ked with obvious irritation."

    You could play around with something similar, especially if you want to separate the breathy initial part from the glottal closure at the end-- the way most gasps end, if you really listen, that's where the difficulty in transliterating them lies. They are vocalized "backwards," with in- instead of ex-halation.

    I like the gnarly foreign "fused" vowels, they give your reader some indication that we're somewhere near the linguistic pale.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Uhh....hellooooo guys... Just thought I'd mention this, softly.

    There is a panel truck parked outside...men with white coats are getting out now.

    They are approaching your house.....
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    foxfirebrand said:
    Œuhhhhghh!
    Œehhh!
    Œughhhk!

    Something like that?

    A more masculine version, conveying a little indignation:

    Ǽhhhhghk!
    Ǽuhhhgh!

    Gosh I have fun with this stuff.
    Sounds like you've joined Panj in the bath...:D
     

    tav

    New Member
    USA - English
    Thanks for all the suggestions!

    I particularly like Ghuahh!! and Œuhhhhghh!

    I really wanted to open with that sound, but it seems quite difficult to do so. I just needed some fresh insight. I guess we all came to the same conclusion.:thumbsup:

    BTW, the beetroot juice hasn't come out of the carpet, and I paid off the men in white coats.;)
     

    Kermzie

    New Member
    English - Australia
    This is the forum I was looking for! Only 12 years late to the party it seems.

    I came up with "tfffffff" for different purposes. This is when you react to something awkward. It's a subtler intake of breath.

    e.g. "I must've been drunk if you felt sexually harrassed. Also, I'm gay." (Kevin Spacey)
    "Tffffffff" (everyone else)
     

    Kermzie

    New Member
    English - Australia
    That's not so much a gasp as a yell or scream...

    "Oh!" is a better approximation for the kind of gasp I think you're going for, but it also has a few uses and is easy to misread.

    [edit]: Perhaps an alternate spelling is warranted for this, like "Hoh!" or "Auh!". That captures breathiness better.
     

    Kermzie

    New Member
    English - Australia
    Hahaha, I thought something like this would appear eventually. Thanks ewie.

    I just want to make it clear now that my suggestion is inhaled rather than exhaled:
    • Inhaled would be like "tifffff";
    • Exhaled would be like "tooffffffff"
     
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