What is Japanese Onomatopoeia ?
Despite the hard to spell word, it’s a term for a type of a very simple word category everyone knew since we were little.
Onomatopoeia is also called sound symbolism. Remember when you’re little and learning words such as meow~, moo~ or woof! ? Or when you see “Pow!” or “Gulp gulp~” in comic books? Yep, that’s it~ It is a term for words that imitate sounds.
In English, these kinds of words have a very childish property and it’s very rare for adults to use them in everyday language. But in Japanese, these kinds of words are integrated with their everyday language. That is why you need to learn more about it if you haven’t. In case you haven’t noticed, you will find a lot of these sound effects too in manga (Japanese comic).
Image 1: ヒリヒリ (throb throb)
Image 2: ドドドド (ratatatataa!! *sound of machine gun* in this case is the rumbling sound of the very fast step.
But more than just sound effects, Japanese people really incorporate these words in everyday sentence. They tend to describe something with sounds. The rolling stones, (literally) it’s goro goro. That sparkly diamond? It looks kira kira. Cutting a thick log with saw? It sounds like zaku zaku. Someone suddenly died in a snap? It’s pokkuri!
Sound symbolism is one of the most important part of Japanese language. A lot of book including the JLPT material doesn’t cover descriptions and usage of onomatopeia. But you will find a lot of them in real world. Yes, A LOT!
Therefore you will need another reference to help you with this material. One recommended book is the Onomato Pera Pera . It’s a book that cover a lot of different type of onomatopoeia and the
most interesting part is that we could see the word in action on a comic
strip! Definitely good to understand the context of each words!
Happy learning! ｡ﾟ✶ฺ.ヽ(*´∀`*)ﾉ.✶ฺﾟ｡