WHAT’S THAT SOUND? – Marilyn Armstrong

Borborygmus: a rumbling or gurgling noise made by the movement of fluid and gas in the intestines.

bor·bo·ryg·mus \ ˌbȯr-bə-ˈrig-məs \


Grumble. Glurg. Pow. Blub.

Does anyone remember the scene at the beginning of “The African Queen” with Humphrey Bogart really hungry, sitting at the table with Katherine Hepburn getting delicate sandwiches and tea while his stomach belched and roared and gurgled? Who knew there was a word for that.

This is what I love about English. We have a word for absolutely everything … except a few from other languages for which we do not have words. Like “davka” which means “Doesn’t it just figure … ” and actually was originally German, but slipped into Hebrew.

Or “meerpesset” — actually a Dutch word — which means the kind of outside porch on a kitchen which is enclosed on three sides with one side open, often used to store things (and frequently enclosed to make a very bright closet … or, if there’s another building or pole, a good place to hang the laundry in the summertime.

But mostly, English has a lot of words and a lot of tenses and a lot of ways to say the same thing with a slightly different feeling, depending on which word you use.

We used to have grammatical rules and things like “punctuation,” but we have abandoned grammar. Eliminated adverbs and tenses, especially complex past tenses. I mourn the loss, but since so much of the language has been reduced to emojis and abbreviations which are known only to those under age 20, I suppose I should be happy we have words.

I’m sure I’ll find some use for borborygmus. I will certainly try very hard to find one!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.

36 thoughts on “WHAT’S THAT SOUND? – Marilyn Armstrong”

    1. English is very easy-going that way. So is Hebrew, probably because they had a couple of thousand of years of missing words to make up. But other languages are very resistant to letting other language-based words slide in — French coming immediately to mind. I don’t know how successful they’ve been at the goal of keeping French pure. I’m betting not very.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I like “bubkas” (sp?). Heard a lot on “Law and Order”. Usually the defense attorney (usually Ron Silver or Bob Dishy) tells Jack McCoy, “Give it up, Jack. You don’t have BUBKAS”,


  1. oh gawd! I hope we don’t have to type in emojis! I don’t speak emoji and I’m too old to pick up a second language. I’m glad we still have words too. A Japanese word I like that we don’t have an equivalent for in English is “ganbatte!” It means “do your best!” and “good luck!” all rolled up in one. I like that one because it implies that good luck only comes with great effort so you have to work hard at whatever you want too.


    1. I’m sure every language has words that have wonderful specific meanings. In the art and photographic worlds, Japanese has the BEST words! Like bokeh, meaning the soft background when the forward image is sharp. And there are more musical words in Italian than any other language. Not surprisingly, Inuit has a thousand words for snow.


      1. oh, I didn’t know “bokeh”. That’s a great word because I’m into photography. Yeah, I heard that about the Inuit. Didn’t know that about music and Italian but that makes sense because so many of our music words come from Italian like allegro. Thinks about it… and pasta words too.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, I get certain sounds in my belly and elsewhere when I chew gum. I usually race into the bathroom rather than offend Marilyn and the furry kids who usually take the fall.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I’m so glad I can finally point out when my grown sons are experiencing a need for a meal! “Gentlemen, perhaps we address your recent attacks of borborygmus. Have some lasagna.”


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