Friday, 24 June 2011



Today I thought I might do a post about something I find interesting about the Japanese language.
If you read the title, you'd probably know that I'll be writing briefly about sound words. If you went to a school in an English speaking country I'm sure that you would have learned what they would call this in English, which is, onomatopoeia.

Onomato what!?

Basically things like "Quack", "Bang", "Barf" in English. Onomatopoeaia in Japanese is 擬声語 'Giseigo'.

I find it interesting seeing/hearing/reading how the two languages try to interpret the same sounds into similar or completely different ways. Although the renditions can be somewhat different, you can generally still see where each language is coming from.

On top of that, there seems to be quite a lot more in Japanese than in English. I think it might be that in English they often describe sounds rather than just giving it a sound. Also, from my experience people somewhat tend to get excited when they learn onomatopoeia that don't exist in English. 

They often tend to say the sound word twice when describing that noise was made more than once, like:
Inu ga wanwan hoeteita
The dog was barking woof woof

......oh well I suppose they do it in English too. But I'm certain that they do it more in Japanese.

Anyway I think I'll kind of try to turn this into a quiz. I'll throw in some easy ones and harder ones, so guess what the sounds are. I'll also write the repeated version if there is one as well.

Answer: Cat (meow)

ウキーッ!! or  ウキキ , ウキウキ
Uki~! or can be Ukiki     Uki-uki
Ans: Monkey screech(?) Uki-uki can also mean to be really excited and jumpy. (So i suppose thats because monkeys can be a bit restless)

ブーン、 ブンブン
Bu~n,  Bun-Bun (Theres more than one answer to this)
Ans: It can either be things that brooom or buzzz. So something like a car or a flying insect (usually bee). I suppose this is one of the few that English is more specific. Possibly because of the higher amount of sounds in the language?

Answer: Sheep.

パカッ、 パカパカ
Paka, Paka-paka

Answer: Well paka is basically anything that makes that kind of noise, like opening a can or a jar. Paka-paka is most often used to describe the sound of a horse walking. Paka-paka Paka-Paka :)

Answer: Tick-Tock a clock

Chun, Chun-chun
Answer: A small bird like a sparrow

Poto, Poto-poto
Answer: Water drops. Poto-poto is obviously multiple water drops, but quite light ones such as light rain shower.

Answer: Someone sleeping. It's the type of snoring that's more like a whistle than a dump truck.

コン, コンコン

Kon, Kon-Kon
Answer: A knocking sound. "Kon-Kon", "Who's there?" ".......I was going to make a knock knock joke but couldn't think of any so gave up". Kon-kon is also used as the noise foxes make.

Gatan-Goton (this is actually a mix of to different sounds, because the thing...well makes both of these sounds..I'll give a hint if you need it. -it's something you ride)
Answer: Train.

ジャー Or ザー
Jaa or can be Zaa. I think Zaa can be Zaa-zaa, but not sure I've heard it for Jaa lol
Answer: Running water, such as from a tap. It can also be used (mainly Zaa) for fairly strong rain.

ゴー、 ゴーゴー
Go~, Go~Go~ (no its not some guy yelling "Go, go, gO!")
Answer: Anything that makes that kind of noise It could be a raging fire, raging rapids, raging dump if you were reading the others properly as well it can also be the type of snoring that sounds like a dump truck.

ズルッ、 ズルズル
Zuru, Zuru-zuru
Answer: Something wet being sucked up. So it can be someone sucking back up the snot that dribbled out of their nose, or them sucking up noodles loudly. Or both at the same time. EWWWW

Answer: Drinking noise. In English it would be "gulp"

well I think that might be enough for now....the list could go on for ever.....

Well not really but maybe for another post!

Japanese language also describes other sensations (sight, smell, touche etc) in a  similar kind of way, like something a smooth bald head would be ツルツル (Tsuru-Tsuru). A hard flexed muscle (hehe) or well most other things hard would be カチカチ (kachi-kachi). These actually might be even more interesting because now that I think of it (very lightly) these don't exist at all in English........Well anyway thats for another time and another day.


  1. Gahhh, I hate it whenever I have to translate stuff with these sort of things! I remember this bit where one player was holding a coach's head and said 「ツルツルだと思っていたがザラザラでした」www


    But very nice entry here mate!

  2. Thanks! Sorry about all the grammatical errors! I couldn't be bothered reading over it before. Fixed it up now though lol...

  3. 勉強になりました!