Onomatopoeia and alliterations in Hoon Hoon Houwa Gari

Ningombam Captain *

 Leishel Rangshel Koireng
Leishel Rangshel Koireng

Hoon Hoon Houwa Gari

Artist: Leishel Rangshel Koireng
Genre: Indie folk
Release date: 21st December 2018
Length: 1 min 45 secs
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Hoon hoon hoon hoon houwa gari
Tring tring tring tring aka gari
Ui loukhi hoon hoon thoukhi
Tring tring kaya oofool chaikhi
Koodam phade phenat tongde
Sabal kaarak kak kak netla
Poh poh khongba houwa gari
Tring tring laoba mandela
Shorot shorot khongna khamkhi
Pheina houwa gari
Masha pangoom hoomkhi phoorit
Oofool jawai mitloo chang
Ngaihak khamna shuru shuru noikhi
Kak kak netna amuk thoukhi
Thongnaolomda khoot thindok
Handleman na laorak-e
Ngaihak uitha ngaihak uiroom
Gari taafam keithel youkhi
Poh poh poh poh rickshaw gari
Tring tring tring tring jeep gari
Hoon hoon hoon hoon houwa gari
Tring tring tring tring aka gari
Tre tre tre tre roto gari
Trang trang trang trang yoobi barap

I initially wanted to dissect this very song to explain the various intricacies involved, along with its emotional effects resulting from its musicality. But I can't adopt this approach on this one. In fact, I shouldn't; I'm obliged not to. Because if you've gone through the above given lyrics, you might have found something uncanny.

From the first reading, it is quite clear that the songwriter is a fan of "onomatopoeia". This calls for a linguistic explanation of the song. But let's not dive into the academic definition of this word. The thing is, we just need to understand that the o-word mentioned above is the very act of forming a word by mimicking the sound made by an object, animate or inanimate.

Like the word "plop" for example; this word means "dropping something in the water", and unsurprisingly when we drop a stone in a water body, we can hear the sound "plop". I secretly think that the "cuckoo bird" was named so, because it makes the sound "cuckoo". (Woah! I'm a genius).

Now coming back to the song, it is Leishel Rangshel Koireng's debut recording, which is done with The Cajon Diaries, hence spawning their 10th episode. Rangshel is an independent artist who is quite active in café gigs and music festivals around: Sofar Sounds and River Bank Music Festival, to name a few.

"Hoon hoon Houwa Gari” is built in the tempo of 116 bpm and in the scale of C major. It lacks the bass guitar, but not the bass. Its entirety can be viewed as a poetry recital over a short movement in a lengthy classical guitar piece, laden with the optimum amount of bass from the low E-string of the nylon guitar and Rangshel's deep tenor vocals.

The fast-paced cajon played by Irom Singthoi, who started The Cajon Diaries initiative, accompanies the guitar perfectly. The song is simple, yet sophisticated (Now that's what you call a perfect paradox).

First, it is simple because it was recorded with just a guitar, a cajon and a condenser mic; you see, no gimmicks. Nevertheless, the song does not suffer from complications of under-production. Second, it is sophisticated because the lyrics depict colorful onomatopoeic elements presented with the wisest wordplay, and listening to the song tickles the listeners' "nostalgia-bone" (if there's such a word) even when the lyrics simply describe the scene of a cacophony of vehicles. Rangshel's vocal ability is complimented by the fact that he can make the description of a cacophonous scene sound euphonous (pleasing to the ear).

I tried a take on translating his lyrics in English, but in vain. Because the onomatopoeic words are culture-specific, and relates to our language only. Let alone English, if Rangshel was singing in French, the hoon-hoon would be substituted by tut-tut; if in Japanese, by pu-pu, and by bim-bim in Vietnamese. Thus, the lyrics stand alone as something entirely authentic to our culture (language, precisely).

"Koon Leite Koonjabi !" translated as "Don't have twenty (ruppee note), Kunjabi !" - you might recognise this quirky sentence if you're an avid radio listener, that too, a fan of the daily radio play aired before noon. This is a catchphrase embedded in the Manipuri pop culture, taken from the popular radio play "Heinoujom Yumbaal Telangga Yaheep".

The thing that makes this catchphrase ring or work its humour is in the alliteration of the consonant 'K' in it. Just like this catchphrase, the title of Rangshel's song has the alliteration in the consonant 'H'. This makes the song an embodiment of a Wise Wordplay (alliteration intended). Thus the song definitely works the magic on us - to amuse our ears, and evoke nostalgia without fail.

* Ningombam Captain wrote this article for
Ningombam Captain is the creator of Blue Bannerman Reviews. The writer is currently pursuing English Hons. in MS University and can be contacted at ningombamcaptain(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 23, 2018.

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