What I think would be good fun would be to trace the genealogy of the ‘incorrect answer’ sound from the television game show “Family Feud”… hmmm, I am not sure if I can represent it properly on my blog, but it kind of goes ‘boh-bong’ where the bong is a lower note than the boh.*
It is crazy how the game show has died in Australia but the sound is relatively common. I have found it circulates within popular discourse and receives immediate recognition of its meaning whenever it is deployed in a ‘small-talk’ context (you know, gossiping, ‘yarning’ and so on). It means ‘bad luck for someone, but something is wrong, and the bad luck makes it a rather funny situation in the context of your story telling’ or that is how I have witnessed it used. How many bloody sounds are there that can be deployed in such a manner?!?! I can’t really think of any. Maybe Ali G’s “booka” getting-shot-in-the-back-of-the-head-by-a-ganster-holding-gun-sideways sound? Maybe it is just amongst my mates?
See there is a difference between adding sound effects to action, ala classic Hong-Kong action style post-translation sound effects – like adding ‘fist punching’ sounds to a punching fist, or making lightsaber sounds while sweeping the yard, or even humming the theme song to a fuckin wild 1980s tv show – like the theme from the A-Team or Joey Scarbury’s absolute classic “Believe It or Not (I’m Walking On Air)” from the television series “Greatest American Hero” which I want played at my funeral…
None of the above examples are really in the same ball-park because they do not carry anywhere near the same semantic weight as the ‘boh-bong’. The ‘boh-bong’ is not a word and yet it functions in a word-like way. Is this a machine language that is circulating amongst the humans? Would machines go ‘boh-bong’ to each other after they dropped a set in Pong?
I’ll be buggered if I know.
EDIT: More than seven years later (21/03/12) here is a version of the sound:
* Because of the extrordinary difficulty in making sounds with words (haha) here are some other versions of ‘boh-bong’ that did not make the cut: buh-bom, bah-bong, bah-bom, and boh-bomg.