1. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    Do you italicize sound words in narrative?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by lameri, May 9, 2011.

    How about interjections?

    I think interjections shouldn't be italicized, but regarding sound words (onomatopoeia) I see discrepancies...
    Thanks.
     
  2. Leatherworth Featherfist
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    Leatherworth Featherfist Member

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    I usually just put onomatopoeia in quotes. I'm not sure if that's right, so I guess I need this cleared up as well.
     
  3. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    I wrote "I think" because some sources say that interjections are not italicized if written in dialogue, but they are in narrative. I'm not following that though: my interjections are never italicized. Any better advice in the CMS or somewhere reputable?
     
  4. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    That depends how you're using them. Obviously you don't italicise onomatopoeia used within a sentence, like, "her nails screeched down the blackboard". I'd say the grey area is, "With a screech, she slid her nails..." because it could be read as a normal word, or you could emphasise it. I almost certainly would italicise: "Screech! The class jumped and looked up to see her nails scraping down the blackboard." but using onomatopoeia that way is usually not recommended unless you're writing for younger audiences or comedic things. Serious literature should not have sounds presented that way.
     
  5. lameri
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    lameri Senior Member

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    But screech is not an onomatopoeia, it is a normal word, at least nowadays:

    From Merriam Webster:
    Origin of SCREECH

    alteration of earlier scritch, from Middle English scrichen; akin to Old Norse skr├Žkja to screech
    First Known Use: 1577

    One source I found talked about possibly being of imitative origin:
    screech
    mid-13c., schrichen , possibly of imitative origin (cf. shriek ). The noun is first recorded 1550s. Screech owl is attested from 1590s ( scritch-owl is from 1520s).

    The rule I'm using for myself is to only italicize the sound words that are not in the dictionary.
     
  6. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't, but then I don't often use them.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i don't see italics as being proper for any of those instances...

    an exception may be in books/stories for young children, but i think it's still probably more a case of the publisher's house style choices there and not proper for a writer to do it in the ms...
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dunno what definition of onomatopoeia you're using, but it's words that sound like the thing they describe, and screech does that very well. :p
     
  9. Jessica_312
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    Jessica_312 Contributing Member

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    I tend to put my "onomatopoeia" in quotes. And I just really like the word "onomatopoeia", but I don't get to say "onomatopoeia" a lot so I'm saying "onomatopoeia" many times right now. Onomatopoeia. :D
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ok, jess... now let's see if you know how to pronounce it! ;-)

    [without pasting in a dictionary symbol-laden version]
     

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