# How do you describe sounds in words?

Gold Member

## Main Question or Discussion Point

How do you discribe sounds in words? have you ever had to talk to a mechanic over the phone and discribe the noise your vehicle is making?
i guess if you were a musician you could pin it down, but to the untrained ear i think it is extremely difficult, how would you discribe the sound a jet
engine, a knife cutting through bread, some one using chalk on a black board, a vacuum cleaner makes ?

Edit, the last one was a bit blue so i deleted it.

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## Answers and Replies

Related General Discussion News on Phys.org
Gold Member
Why do 99% of you go to sleep when i want to talk to you:grumpy: :grumpy: Wake up you are all missing some thing, i am not sure what it is but you missed it any how :tongue2:

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
There is a call-in radio show in the US called 'Car Talk'. Occassionally someone calls in with a question about a peculiar sound that their car is making. In addition to words, people try to vocalize the sound, although some are clever enough to record the sound, or in some cases, they will carry the phone to the car.

For me, I'd try to provide a frequency spectrum, but then I'm an engineer.

Actually, I'd try to record the sound.

BTW, acoustic emissions and analyses are good diagnostic tools for determing if a dynamic mechancial system is functioning properly. I once informed the management at a pump station that a pump was soon going to experience bearing failure. The managers were skeptical - until the pump's outboard bearing failed two weeks later. Until then, no one had thought of contingencies, and the pump was down for a couple of weeks pending replacement.

The words speak for themselves,

Code:
Is wolram an enigma? (Worlram asks whether, he's mysterious, if not, his plan
won't work)
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\/
The dog that used to live here  (Worlram remainds himself about a dog that he
used to like a lot, and now wants to look at
him/her for the last time.)
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|
|
\/

How do you get your kicks? (Wolram really meant how do you get your brain
stimulations, drugs, etc)

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|
\/

Pinched my garden  (Wolram doesn't care about flowers and garden anymore,
starts to lose nice things.)

|
|
|
\/

Unresolved historic mysteries (Wolram wants to know about mysteries, and
he, to is planning something mysterious)

|
|
|
\/

Go faster                 (Wolram looks for fast vehicle, which everyone knows what
can do (kill)

|
|
|
\/

True story                 (Wolram wants to tell his almost last last true story.)

|
|
|
\/

Some others less important threads

|
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\/

I want to die           (Oh, no! After all this, he tells that he wants to die. He
reveals his mysterious plan, as he was talking about
earlier)

|
|
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\/
Sounds                   (Almost final step in Wolram's play and die series. He asks
for the sound of the knife cutting through something (He
really does), he won't have enough time to write anything,
after he "does it")
|
|
|
\/
Wolram's mystery solved!

Danger
Gold Member
Recording would be best, of course, along with the frequency analysis if the person that you're talking to can understand it. Of course, the recording would do no good if you're communicating by text (that's still words, and you didn't specify). Personally, I tend to equate sounds to other sounds that the person is familiar with. It's odd that you happened to mention both vacuums and jet engines in your examples, because I would probably use each as a reference for the other. I might liken a jet to a vacuum cleaner on steroids, or a vacuum to a really small jet with lower pitch. The problem with trying to imitate the sound vocally is based upon the same reason that people are always surprised the first time they hear a recording of themselves. Because of facial and sinus physiology, the sound that you hear yourself is not the same one that others hear. Bone conduction and whatnot distort it. You can't, therefore, be certain that you're imitating it properly.

Gold Member
heartless said:
The words speak for themselves,

Code:
Is wolram an enigma? (Worlram asks whether, he's mysterious, if not, his plan
won't work)
|
|
|
\/
The dog that used to live here  (Worlram remainds himself about a dog that he
used to like a lot, and now wants to look at
him/her for the last time.)
|
|
|
\/

How do you get your kicks? (Wolram really meant how do you get your brain
stimulations, drugs, etc)

|
|
|
\/

Pinched my garden  (Wolram doesn't care about flowers and garden anymore,
starts to lose nice things.)

|
|
|
\/

Unresolved historic mysteries (Wolram wants to know about mysteries, and
he, to is planning something mysterious)

|
|
|
\/

Go faster                 (Wolram looks for fast vehicle, which everyone knows what
can do (kill)

|
|
|
\/

True story                 (Wolram wants to tell his almost last last true story.)

|
|
|
\/

Some others less important threads

|
|
|
\/

I want to die           (Oh, no! After all this, he tells that he wants to die. He
reveals his mysterious plan, as he was talking about
earlier)

|
|
|
\/
Sounds                   (Almost final step in Wolram's play and die series. He asks
for the sound of the knife cutting through something (He
really does), he won't have enough time to write anything,
after he "does it")
|
|
|
\/
Wolram's mystery solved!

Omg, i am have my own personal psychoanalysist on line, which is probably safe/ish , but be warned sir the last person who looked into my mind is still locked up and talking in tongues :rofl:

Last edited:
Gold Member
Astronuc said:
There is a call-in radio show in the US called 'Car Talk'. Occassionally someone calls in with a question about a peculiar sound that their car is making. In addition to words, people try to vocalize the sound, although some are clever enough to record the sound, or in some cases, they will carry the phone to the car.

For me, I'd try to provide a frequency spectrum, but then I'm an engineer.

Actually, I'd try to record the sound.

BTW, acoustic emissions and analyses are good diagnostic tools for determing if a dynamic mechancial system is functioning properly. I once informed the management at a pump station that a pump was soon going to experience bearing failure. The managers were skeptical - until the pump's outboard bearing failed two weeks later. Until then, no one had thought of contingencies, and the pump was down for a couple of weeks pending replacement.
Well with my trusty screwdriver i can tell if an engines big end ,little end or
main bearings are about to fail, but i meant the vocalisation of a sound, so that others can understand what you are trying to explain

Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I think a good mechanic has to learn the difference between someone telling them their car is going "clink clink clink" and "bing bing bing" or "brrrrrrrvvvvppppppop" and just "pop."

Of course, there are easy ones, like the difference between turning the key and hearing, "nyeheheheheheheheheheheheheheh nyeheheheheheheheheheheh nyeheheheheheheheh" and "click."

The best way is to just bring the car to the mechanic, or the mechanic to the car and say, "That!" :tongue:

Gold Member
Moonbear said:
I think a good mechanic has to learn the difference between someone telling them their car is going "clink clink clink" and "bing bing bing" or "brrrrrrrvvvvppppppop" and just "pop."

Of course, there are easy ones, like the difference between turning the key and hearing, "nyeheheheheheheheheheheheheheh nyeheheheheheheheheheheh nyeheheheheheheheh" and "click."

The best way is to just bring the car to the mechanic, or the mechanic to the car and say, "That!" :tongue:
Moon B, you (are) a facinating person :rofl:

Danger
Gold Member
I just re-checked her Member Photo entries and must agree with you. :tongue2: