A sound that arouses fear or dislike in a person for any reason. The novelty of a new sound, particularly one that replaces an old, familiar sound, or SOUND SIGNAL, often causes such reactions. For instance, on both the east and west coasts of Canada, the traditional foghorns and diaphones are being replaced by new, electronically driven models (see SCHIZOPHONIA). Fishermen and nearby residents claim that the new sounds are not as effective, and generally show a dislike for the replacement of the old, familiar signal. However, over time, many such new sounds become accepted by the community, and eventually if they disappear (see DISAPPEARING SOUND), may even be treated by later generations as a SOUND ROMANCE.
Sound Example: Three foghorns at Point Atkinson, West Vancouver, B.C., each of which replaced the previous one, the last one being electronic and its installation controversial.
Other sounds arouse a negative response because of unpleasant associations surrounding them and what they represent. The sounds of the schoolbell or scolding parents are often disliked by school children. In tropical countries, the sounds of wind, stormy waves or wild animals are often disliked because of the danger they represent. In industrialized countries, actually startling and unpleasant sounds, such as the SONIC BOOM, may be tolerated by people because of a belief in the sound representing progress and being necessary to the economy. See also: JET PAUSE, SOUND INTRUSION, SOUND POLLUTION.
Still other sounds, including words and certain body sounds, may cause general disapproval on moral, religious, aesthetic or social grounds, and thus may become a sound taboo, or else fall under noise abatement legislation. In some societies, speaking certain sacred names for the deity, or even uttering the name of another person in a certain way, is considered as breaking a sound taboo.
In western society, Sunday has been traditionally regarded as a day of rest, and breaking the SILENCE of that day or any solemn ceremony has been regarded with severe social disapproval. NOISE legislation preventing certain sounds, or sound producing activities, is a common modern expression of sound taboos. Street music, shouts and cries of vendors, barking dogs, carpet beating, noisy trades and industry, radios and loudspeakers are commonly restricted or prohibited in by-laws. Compare: SACRED NOISE.
To prohibit or strongly disapprove of a sound is to give it a certain power. In some cases it is simply a matter of reserving the sound for a special occasion, such as a particular bell rung only at a given festival, or the emergency warning siren reserved as a signal of extreme danger. More common sounds, such as the screeching of tires, various body sounds, obscene words and so on, acquire their own kind of power through social proscription, and therefore are used by those rebelling against social norms.
In some cases, sound phobias and taboos may be traced to actual physical characteristics of the sound, namely loudness (see HYPERACUSIS), noisiness, or high pitch as in the squeak of chalk on a blackboard. More commonly, however, sound phobias and taboos reflect social values and personal attitudes towards the sound maker.