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I am reading a novel, and in a couple places I have read:

»Oh«, machte er.

I know that "machte" is the preterite form of "machen," meaning "to make." However, I can't find a meaning of the word "machen" that has to do with vocalization. Is it used in this context because he is "making" an "oh" sound? Thank you!

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It's simply yet another synonym for 'utter'. 'Er macht "oh"' == "He goes "oh!"'.

You can use it with real words, but more idiomatically it's used with onomatopoesy, like "Oh!" or "Au!" - or even of animals, who have only pseudo-words: 'Die Kuh macht "muh!"

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  • Thank you! So it would also be correct to use with other sentences that are uttered, like "»Ja«, machte er"?
    – kccu
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 15:05
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    You can use it with real words, but more idiomatically it's used with onomatopoesy, like "Oh!" or "Au!" - or even of animals, who have only pseudo-words: 'Die Kuh macht "muh!" Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 15:09
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    @KilianFoth I moved your comment into your answer as it clarifies the usage quite a bit more. Please adjust, if you see this unfit. Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 23:17

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