What is a noise, that it annoys us so?
Noise is, in a given situation, any sound or sounds which one or more listeners consider to be any of: irrelevant, unwanted, intrusive, distracting, irrelevant or annoying. By analogy, dots, blots, graininess and such may be considered to be visual noise.
Noise is a barrier to communication: whether it be the babble of the market-place or the hiss in an old recording, most of us would rather filter it out.
The human brain is wonderfully efficient at filtering sounds. If not for that fact, speech would be incredibly difficult. So efficient is the filtering in our hearing process, and its parallel in writing, that we are often entirely unaware of noise.
When people fail to hear a sound, it takes a linguist, or a poet of the calibre of Alfred Noyes to ask:
"Were they deaf that they did not hear? " His word-images of wind in the trees, clash and clatter on cobbles, and noises in the night are unforgettable.
Artist: Nancy L (Timpanelli) Middleton
And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,Source: PotW.org
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding -
Riding - riding -
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
There is a wonderful video of this poem on YouTube. The hissing and crackling serve as a good example of what 'noise' means, as applied to communication and speech.
noise consisting of a large number of transient disturbances with a statistically random time distribution.
This is rather like the chatterbox, whose occasional comments may or may not be of interest or relevance to the discerning reader.
Copyright notice: the illustration used here is the copyright of Nancy L (Timpanelli) Middleton. It is used in the sincere belief that, especially since a link is provided to the artist's web page, it promotes the artist and the work and hence constitutes fair use.