Onomatopoeia In Japanese: The Fascinating Sound Words
Onomatopoeia in Japanese are the words that represent or create sounds. In English, they sound like – whoosh, pop, crackle, meow, etc. We use them in our oral and written language to add more substance and visceral to our language.
It’s like adding fragrance, color, or texture to our saying.
Many people in the past considered the Japanese language “vague” inaccurately. Onomatopoeia words are wonderfully filling that void. And, somehow, differently, than we see in English and most European languages.
In this interesting blog, we will explore Japanese onomatopoeia words, the Japanese onomatopoeia list, and the meaning of onomatopoeia.
So, let’s start our journey and dive deep into onomatopoeia in Japanese.
What Is Onomatopoeia?
Onomatopoeia can be any word, phrase, or expression that imitates or recreate a sound or feeling. Japanese use these words in everyday conversation to express sounds and, most importantly, feelings.
Using thousands of Onomatopoeia Japanese express their true feelings with amazing sound effects. Here feeling いそいそ (isoiso: “enthusiastic”) now? Let’s continue!
As we mentioned earlier, the Japanese use these English to express sounds, noises, animal sounds, and feelings. Comics and children’s books are the best examples. You will often see the words like “moo moo” for a cow and “vroom vroom” for a car.
Onomatopoeia in Japanese is also used to communicate with kids.
Japanese have taken this to a new level. Onomatopoeia in Japanese offers lots of nuances to express sounds. That includes sounds of nature, animals, and objects, as well as feelings and movements.
Really amazing! Isn’t it?
Let’s discuss the types of Onomatopoeia. We will also explore the onomatopoeia examples.
In the meantime, learn all about Australia Translation.
Types Of Onomatopoeia In Japanese
Japanese onomatopoeia is amazing. They use words to mimic sounds, feelings, and situations. Onomatopoeia in Japanese is a significant part of people’s casual speech.
The onomatopoeia can be classified into five major groups:
- Giseigo (擬声語): Sound made by animals or humans.
- Giongo (擬音語): Sounds from inanimate objects and nature.
- Gitaigo (擬態語): Sounds used to describe a condition or state.
- Giyougo (擬容語): Sounds used to describe movement or motion.
- Gijougo (擬情語): Sounds used to describe feelings.
Japanese onomatopoeia is divided into five types, out of which Giseigo and Giongo are the only two that exist in the English language.
They represent a sound we can hear, like a hissing snake or buzzing bee. We will see examples of all five types.
Before that, let’s understand how to use Japanese onomatopoeia.
Also, explore Itadakimasu Meaning in this interesting blog.
How To Use Japanese Onomatopoeia?
Usually, the words used in Japanese onomatopoeia are repetitive. That is, the syllable or the pair of syllables are repeated.
For example, the word キラキラ (kirakira) means “twinkle” or “glitter” and repeats the syllable “Kira.”
Most onomatopoeia in Japanese originated in Japan, so most words are not written in 漢字 (kanji). However, they are usually written in カタカナ (katakana) and sometimes in ひらがな (hiragana).
Most words are used as adverbs, adjectives like words, or adjectival phrases. You will also find some words used as verbs when combined withする (suru) or やる (yaru).
For example, the word ウキウキ (ukiuki) meaning “be excited.” It can be used as a verb with “suru.” Suru and yaru mean to do.
Two Types Of Onomatopoeia In Japanese: 擬音語 (Giongo) and 擬態語 (Gitaigo)
Still wondering is Japanese hard to learn? Now you know there are many types of Japanese onomatopoeia. Some onomatopoeia in Japanese don’t only mimic sounds but are used to express human feelings or actions.
But those words also follow the same pattern and are similar to the words which mimic sounds. That’s the reason we collectively call them “onomatopoeia.”
Here we have mentioned two useful types of onomatopoeia. These are 擬音語 (ぎおんご giongo) and 擬態語 (擬態語 gitaigo). The kanji character 擬 (gi), at the start of both of them, means “mimic.”
Giongo is the more extensive term for onomatopoeia words, similar to English onomatopoeia. Here, the kanji character 音 meaning “sound” and “noise.” When we utter sound effects in words, we use giongo.
Gitaigo words are also mimetic. However, they don’t mimic real sounds. They attempt to utilize similar sound patterns as giongo.
Here, the kanji character 態 (Tai) means “condition,” “appearance,” and “action.”
To make the matter more complex. Some words have both giongo and gitaigo aspects.
At the same time, when you use it as gitaigo, it means “to sleep well.” It describes the concept of sound sleep and no need actually to imitate the snoring sound.
Onomatopoeia Meaning For Kids
The literal meaning of onomatopoeia is very complex, at least for kids. However, the naming of a thing or action by vocal action or sound associated with it. For example, hiss or buzz.
However, to explain in a more easier way to kids, you can say:
- Words having the sound of the word mimic or clarify the meaning.
- Sound words.
- Noisy words.
- A with a particular sound, but also sounds like that specific sound.
- Sound imagery as imagery is descriptive language.
This way, you have the option to introduce onomatopoeia easily to kids. Kids will surely love these unique words.
Now let’s explore the example of onomatopoeia in Japanese in all five categories.
Example Of Onomatopoeia
These are sounds made by humans and animals. Some of them may sound exactly like what you heard growing up.
Also, some sounds are even closer to what you hear in c what you write in your language.
|Animal||Japanese Sound||English Sound|
|Monkey||うきうき||Oo oo aa aa|
|がみがみ||Being lectured or nagged by someone senior|
|あはは||A cheerful or a loud laugh|
|うわーん||A child crying loudly|
|うぎゃー||A surprised scream or a shriek|
|うふふ||Chuckling like you know the secret|
|ぺちゃくちゃ||Chatting about frivolous things|
|ごにょごにょ||Muttering in a way that people can’t hear you|
|ぺらぺら||Ability to speak a foreign language fluently|
|おほん||Clearing your throat for attention|
|くすくす||Chuckling and unable to hold it in|
These are also real sounds. These are the sounds you see used in manga and anime. They’re the sound of the wind, the door slamming, and the phone ringing.
That means any natural sound you hear and not made by a person or animal falls under this category.
|ざーざー||Heavy rain pouring|
|ぱたぱた||Cloth flapping in the wind|
|ぴゅーぴゅー||Strong and cold wintry winds|
|ばしゃっ||Water scattering forcefully|
|こぽこぽ||Gentle water bubbling|
|めらめら||Bursting into flames suddenly|
|さくさく||Stepping on sand or soft dirt|
|ごろごろ||A boulder tumbling down a hill|
|たたたた||Running at full speed|
These are the words that describe conditions or states.
|ぎらぎら||A glint in your eyes|
|ほかほか||A warm body or food|
|むしむし||Too much warmth, unpleasantly hot|
|べとべと||Sticky with sweat or blood|
|びしょびしょ||Soaked by a large amount of water|
|がたがた||A road that isn’t paved|
|さんさん||Lots of shining sunlight|
|じんわり||Soaking slowly with sweat or tears|
These words express movements and motions. These are basically related to walking or traveling from one place to other.
|のろのろ||Walking at a snail’s pace, slow and sluggish|
|うとうと||Half asleep, nodding off|
|ぐーたら||Not having the willpower to do anything|
|がくがく||Joints, like knees, shaking|
|ぶるぶる||Trembling from cold, fear, or anger|
|きょろきょろ||Turning around, looking around restlessly|
Lastly, we also have words that are used to express feelings. These are also used widely in the manga.
|くよくよ||Worrying about trivial things|
|しんみり||Lonely and quiet|
|うきうき||Happy and full of hope|
|わくわく||Excited from anticipation or pleasure|
|あたふた||Hurriedly running around|
|あわあわ||Grasp on the senses|
|もじもじ||Unable to make decisions due to embarrassment or shyness|
|うっとり||Being fascinated by something beautiful, spellbound|
|ずきずき||Throbbing, grinding pain|
|もやもや||Worrying or wondering what to do|
We hope you loved the world of onomatopoeia in Japanese. These unique words represent sound and are heavily used in the Japanese language. These amazing words are classified into five main types. Stay connected for more such interesting and informative blogs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Japanese onomatopoeia called?
The two main categories of Japanese onomatopoeias: Giseigo and Gitaigo. They both mean “onomatopoeia,” but with different nuances. Let’s see them: Giseigo ・ 擬声語 are words that imitate artificial and natural sounds, any concrete sounds that you can hear.
2. How many Onomatopoeias are there in Japan?
Most people probably don’t know that the Japanese language is lively and easily animated. The language has over 1,000 onomatopoeia with syllabic and repetitive words. Which is three times more than in English. Onomatopoeias are classified into five major types.
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