Nyan Cat

Nice Sanity check… gain 50 XP

I was going to actually do a writeup of the history of NyanCat. But the Wikipedia page says it all and I never do a writeup from just one source. So, instead, let’s talk about that Nyan Nyan song thing.

So, nyan nyan is Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound a cat makes. Kind of like how we in English say that cats say “meow,” the Japanese say that cats say ニャン (nyan). Or rather ニャンニャン (nyan nyan). Many of Japanese animal sounds are repetitive. Birds say ピチュピチュ (pichu pichu), dogs say ワンワン (wan wan), and frogs say ゲロゲロ (gero gero).

Onomatopoeia is the term for a word that is evokes a particular sound. The meaning of the word is wrapped up in how the word sounds. Bang! Crash! Smash! Meow! Moo! Nyan nyan! It comes from ancient Greek and translates loosely to “making up names for things.” But the Greeks actually had a different word for the thing we now call onomatopoeia, echomimesis, which means “imitating a sound.”

But onomatopoeia is not all whooshes and swooshes and ribbits and pichus. Many writers and poets have used the way words sound to enhance the imagery of their work. The absolute best example is Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Bells.” Just check out the first Stanza. Read it out loud. Doesn’t it ring? Doesn’t it sing? It’s a hell of a thing:

Hear the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.