Playing with your food: Alliteration and Onomatopoeia for Pirates

What’s the best way to write “Argh”?

I guess it depends on how you’re using it. To me, “Argh” sounds like a groan, in response to a bad joke.

“Argh!” is a little better, but it’s kind of a suprised yelp more than anything else. A little like someone jumped up in front of you and smacked you over the head with a shovel – and then you drop. It’s curt.

I much prefer – if I’m going for some kind of blood-curdling scream as if all of your fingers got ripped off in some kind of threshing machine – something like this:


I was in secondary school when I started playing with words in this way. Something about the number of repeats of each of the letters works really really well in the word “argh”.

It works even better when italicized:


Now that’s a blood curdling scream.

Here’s where it gets interesting though. Any word which is meant to have emotional impact – or a sound – can be modified in this way. You can take regular words and make them onomatopoeical (sp?). Or you can even stress the hell out of them, and make them even more boisterous.

For example:

Howl becomes Howwwwwl

Growl becomes Grrrrrrrrrowl

Words convey emotion and images. They trigger memories. You shouldn’t be afraid to occasionally screw around with them for effect. The trick is not doing it so often that you piss your reader off.

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

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