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Old 12-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #1
AriAmaru
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Cool The 'Marge Simpson noise'" and other forms of non-verbal communication

[Apologies if this is in the wrong forum. Still relatively new! And I wasn't sure if I should use this one, grammar/syntax, or brainstorming]

So I'm in the middle of editing a fantasy story, and instead of writing a verb to describe a character's disapproval, I wrote [MARGE SIMPSON NOISE] as a placeholder. You know which one I'm talking about - that "mmmm" sound. I've yet to find a word that adequately describes it. Grunt? Grumble? All I've got right now is "sound of disapproval", and that doesn't quite do it for me. Suggestions?

While I'm on the topic of "Sounds of The Simpsons", whoever can describe the Sideshow-Bob-steps-on-dozens-of-rakes noise will have my undying gratitude.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:29 PM   #2
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I'm just spitballing here:

Growled in disapproval.

Grunted his displeasure.

Scoffed.

The first time you could go into more detail. Something like, "Her disapproval rumbled out from the back of her throat like an unhappy tiger."

"Like an unhappy tiger" sucks massive amounts of butt, but I can't think of anything better. My point is that you can start off with a some wordy descriptions to get your point across at first.

Oh, "like an angry purr."

Anyway, once you get your point across you can be more brief.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:52 PM   #3
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Made a sound of disapproval at the back of her throat.

Grunted

Groaned

Whacked

Smacked

Cracked

Whip-crack
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:43 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AriAmaru View Post
[Apologies if this is in the wrong forum. Still relatively new! And I wasn't sure if I should use this one, grammar/syntax, or brainstorming]

So I'm in the middle of editing a fantasy story, and instead of writing a verb to describe a character's disapproval, I wrote [MARGE SIMPSON NOISE] as a placeholder. You know which one I'm talking about - that "mmmm" sound. I've yet to find a word that adequately describes it. Grunt? Grumble? All I've got right now is "sound of disapproval", and that doesn't quite do it for me. Suggestions?

While I'm on the topic of "Sounds of The Simpsons", whoever can describe the Sideshow-Bob-steps-on-dozens-of-rakes noise will have my undying gratitude.
I always thought the Marge Simpson noise sounded like a small growl. It's very similar to the noise some pets make, in fact, though a bit scratchier. Can't help you with the rake noise, though
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Old 12-14-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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Nice question. I've always thought of it as a rumbling mmmm...lol not helpful.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AriAmaru View Post
... the Sideshow-Bob-steps-on-dozens-of-rakes noise ...
No help, but there's an incredible life altering message after the ninth minute, although it doesn't work if you skip ahead.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:46 PM   #7
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Disapproving hum?
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Old 12-14-2012, 05:03 PM   #8
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I think the closest I can get to Sideshow Bob's noise is "uuu-uuuugh."
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Old 12-14-2012, 05:50 PM   #9
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I think this is something where I'd just use "Hmph" and an action/facial expression to show the emotion behind it. Not every noise made by humans or animals can be 'reproduced' by the written word - and many that are, shouldn't be.
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Old 12-14-2012, 06:13 PM   #10
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Can you have the character do some kind of disapproving action? It would probably be way more intersting to the reader than trying to duplicate some non-word noise, and it could certainly help develop the three-dimensionality of that character better than a sound.
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Old 12-14-2012, 06:55 PM   #11
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I'm still trying to find a succinct way to describe that thing you do as a teenager where you stick your lower lip out and sigh loudly so that the resulting puff of air Across your face blows your bangs back. (Works best with Eighties hair.) Seems like there should be a word for it...
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:57 PM   #12
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She looked at him with disapproval and a muffled hum in her throat.
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Old 12-14-2012, 09:48 PM   #13
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She made a sound from deep in her throat, Mmmmm, a purr of disapproval.

That Sideshow Bob sound is always accompanied with a shiver.
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:16 PM   #14
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:43 AM   #15
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These are all great suggestions! I particularly like "phlegmy" and "muffled hum".
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:47 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NeuroFizz View Post
Can you have the character do some kind of disapproving action? It would probably be way more intersting to the reader than trying to duplicate some non-word noise, and it could certainly help develop the three-dimensionality of that character better than a sound.
I'll keep this in mind. I enjoy searching for the "perfect word" often, particularly strong active verbs, which is why I asked the question. But I agree, a good description of a disapproving action can be far more interesting!
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Old 12-15-2012, 12:58 AM   #17
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I like "hummed with disapproval" or "hummed his/her disapproval," maybe accompanied by a negative gesture or action like Neuro said, like a frown or head shake or snort. You could try on some onomatopoeia, "Mmmmmmh," he disagreed, for example, see if it reads well.
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:37 AM   #18
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If you set the context, a simple "hmm" could work.

"Do it. Do it now! I know you want to."
"Hmm," she wasn't quite so sure. The toothbrush had been in the toilet bowl after all, even if he had disinfected it.
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Old 12-15-2012, 05:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ave View Post
If you set the context, a simple "hmm" could work.

"Do it. Do it now! I know you want to."
"Hmm," she wasn't quite so sure. The toothbrush had been in the toilet bowl after all, even if he had disinfected it.
I think this illustrates exactly why you're better off just going with 'disapproving hum' or something of that ilk. If I didn't know you were after the 'Marge Simpson noise' here, I'd take the 'Hmm' in this example as a noise of consideration, like a, 'should I, or shouldn't I?"
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Old 12-15-2012, 07:24 PM   #20
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I think this illustrates exactly why you're better off just going with 'disapproving hum' or something of that ilk. If I didn't know you were after the 'Marge Simpson noise' here, I'd take the 'Hmm' in this example as a noise of consideration, like a, 'should I, or shouldn't I?"
yeah- That's what I was going for- I submit, I haven't watched the simpsons for about ten years so I am more than likely misunderstanding the OP.

That said, lets not get too stuck on the example. I guess the point I'm making is that you don't always have to use verbs. There are some things that are too clunky to describe accurately and succinctly. This is when thought and dialogue can add an entirely new set of brushes to a writers toolbox.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:14 PM   #21
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I would go with,

She gave a disapproving growl.
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Old 12-15-2012, 10:29 PM   #22
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It depends a bit on your writing style, I think. If you're writing in a Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett style, you could probably get away with describing it in a jokey style - something like "she made a disapproving noise, you know, like the one made by aquarium owners when you walk in with a fishing rod" (only funny). Otherwise yeah, "disapproving groan/growl/grunt/murmur".
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Old 12-15-2012, 11:16 PM   #23
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She pursed her lips into a tight disapproving line, "hmmm."
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Old 12-16-2012, 12:28 AM   #24
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I think the closest I can get to Sideshow Bob's noise is "uuu-uuuugh."
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Old 12-16-2012, 12:43 AM   #25
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I have little to no input for this thread, but I just wanted to let everyone know that it was virtually impossible for me to make it to the bottom without making the noises referred to in this thread out loud. And I think that has improved the quality of my weekend.
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