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Help me find a word - Agnes Krampe's Blog

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I grew up in Germany and started writing poetry as a child. I wanted to be a pirate or a writer or an opera singer and ended up becoming a physicist. I moved to the US in 2002 and live in a small town in the Midwest. After more than a decade of being unable to write in either language, I resumed writing poetry, now in English, in 2014. I am also a hiker and photographer. Some of my poetry and nature photography is on my website

Help me find a word

Blog Posted:7/5/2018 2:01:00 PM

Some of you know that English is not my native language. I have been struggling to find a specific verb that describes a sound. I am looking for the English equivalent of the German word "rauschen".

It is the sound of wind in trees or a waterfall/river that is in some distance.

It is a monotonous sound; no internal structure can be discerned (not rustle, burble, babble, murmur).

It is of medium intensity (not roar - too loud, not susurrus - too quiet). 

Thanks! As fellow poets, you know how important it is to have just the precise word.

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Date: 7/21/2018 7:39:00 PM
Psithurism (n) sound of the wind through the trees.
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Date: 7/7/2018 6:35:00 PM
just to add, having ein bischen deutsche - that if I had to translate rauschen - I would agree with Nina and use rushing. But it seems a bit too close up for what you are looking for. And have learnt a new watery word from your question. purling - which describes sound and shape together of maybe a brook - from 16thC - thank you there's also roaring, rolling rumbling, murmuring (german dictionary lists that as translation for rauschen)
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Date: 7/7/2018 5:51:00 PM
hi, that's a good question. sough primarily refers to wind- but with the distance you are wanting, yes. But also with the meaning of wailing, moaning and eerie sound. Some possibles: deep-echoing, thrumming, throbbing, purling, palpitating, surging, reverberating, resonating, resounding, droning. All more watery connected. Something here may lead you to more - all the best, from a watery source!
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Date: 7/6/2018 10:38:00 AM
Hi, Agnes. The use of “sough” peaked in 1893 and is rarely used today. Interestingly, from 1722 forward usage of the word tracked down to its lowest in 1801, peaked in 1893, then tracked down to where it is today. But here’s the thing- it’s still an English word and it appears to perfectly fit your need. When there’s a word in a poem that we have to look up in a dictionary, not only do we expand our vocabulary, but it can also help us to appreciate the poem more. And the new word is then available for us to use in our poems. :) So my recommendation is to use “sough.” Maybe you’ll start a new upward trend in its usage!
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Mark Toney
Date: 7/6/2018 7:35:00 PM
Date: 7/6/2018 5:39:00 AM
Hi Agnes, sough is pronounced, sou or suhf, we have a Town near London called Slough that’s pronounced Like Slhow.
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Date: 7/6/2018 4:46:00 AM
I love the word "sough", Agnes, and I've heard it pronounced "soo".
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Date: 7/6/2018 1:49:00 AM
Hi Agnes. I think if I had to translate “Rauschen” in the sense of a waterfall I would actually use the verb “rush”. Hearing a rush of water conveys a body of water moving as one continuous entity. I suspect the two words have the same root and that’s why! Tricky one. Sometimes German just has better words for things! x
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Date: 7/6/2018 1:15:00 AM
susurrus is more descriptive, but maybe: sillage (the scent); psithurism (the sound)
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Date: 7/5/2018 7:56:00 PM
Let me have a few more schnapps and I'll get back to ya! BTW Agnes, I'm thinkin' about reliving my youth at Oktoberfest this year and I need a guide. You up for it? I only know enough German to get me into trouble!
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 7/6/2018 8:16:00 AM
Where's Beckster? Maybe she'll go. She'll keep me in line...but only if she can speak like Lilli Von Shtupp! Anyone remember Blazing Saddles?
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 7/6/2018 8:12:00 AM
Achtung ba...awwww forget it!! Prost.
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 7/5/2018 8:40:00 PM
But Agnes, I have my lederhosen all packed. It'll be wunderbar! Anyway, in answer to your blog question, the only word I can think of is "thrum".
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 8:21:00 PM
Nope, Keith, I will pass on that. Oktoberfest is SO not my kind of thing.
Date: 7/5/2018 5:31:00 PM
Thank you all for your help. Sorry I am so nitpicky, but I want this to be precise. I think swoosh/whoosh/sough come closest. Will the native speakers please weigh in and explain the differences to me?
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Date: 7/5/2018 4:34:00 PM
The verbs I know of are swoosh, whoosh, soughing, resound.
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 8:20:00 PM
yes, July Morning, I saw that, too. I have, however, found that google translate is not always reliable and precise, and so I preferred to ask you poets :)
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 6:53:00 PM
So how do you pronounce "sough"? I have found both "saf" and "sow" .
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 6:51:00 PM
Thanks, Roy; this has helped indeed.
Pett Avatar
Roy Pett
Date: 7/5/2018 5:56:00 PM
Yes you are correct swoosh is is water and whoosh is air, sough is archaic but it is a good word and should be used more, hope this has helped.
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:30:00 PM
Thanks, Roy - this sounds like the sound. Please help me out: how exactly are swoosh and whoosh different? I feel whoosh is more airy and swoosh more watery? Love the word 'sough', from the definition this may be what I'm after - but I have never seen this used anywhere. Do people use it, or is it archaic?
Date: 7/5/2018 4:25:00 PM
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 7/5/2018 11:18:00 PM
@ Frederic: sounds like my wife until she has her morning coffee and cigarette!
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:27:00 PM
thanks so much for all the suggestions. I am not looking for a poetic simile, but really just the precise word for the actual sound.
Date: 7/5/2018 4:21:00 PM
This reminds me of the monotonous HUM emanating from high voltage electricity lines...
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:26:00 PM
Thanks, Paul, but the sound is more a loud "shhhhh" than a "hummmmmm". I don't feel that waterfalls hum.
Date: 7/5/2018 3:38:00 PM
Murmur?? (can be both noun and verb)
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:24:00 PM
Thanks, Andrea, but murmur suggest internal structure (like somebody talking quietly and you know it's words but you cannot discern anything). Sound is more uniform.
Date: 7/5/2018 3:18:00 PM
I thought of whir or whirr - the sound of something in rapid motion
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:23:00 PM
Thanks, Tim, but I've never heard a river make a whirring sound.
Date: 7/5/2018 2:12:00 PM
All that comes to mind is "hush" or a soothing hush---present progressive where it is not silence, but undiscernible whispers
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Agnes Krampe
Date: 7/5/2018 5:22:00 PM
thanks.Need something louder; hush implies quiet.

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