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The voiced version is always louder, heavier, and more intense than its unvoiced friend.
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That's probably what makes them seem "impure. Now, when you hear onomatopoeia, you can tell if it's something loud or strong based on what kind of consonant it has. Something using "loud" voiced consonants might be banging, rolling thunder, or strong feelings. Something "half" voiced will be noisy, but not loud, like the pitter patter of rain bouncing off of a window.
These are just as important as consonants.
Let's take a look:. For the purpose of this example, these are all representing a clanging sound. Something hitting something else. Again, say them aloud.
Hit some things too! See if you can tell what vowel would be used to express the sound you're hearing.
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Here's are some general rules from Jazz Up Your Japanese:. Though most of these words are repetitive, like the examples above, not all of them follow the same pattern. Some onomatopoeia may even look like "normal" Japanese words to you, especially the mimetic ones that don't represent actual sounds.
Here are some examples:.
Just as in many other languages, the reduplication of a sound symbolizes repetition in sound or action. In onomatopoeia they usually refer to something that's happening over and over. This is what we call a sound made by stopping air in your glottis it's in your throat. The best way to hear it in English is to say "uh-uh. They usually refer to a sound that stopped suddenly or abruptly.
It's basically the opposite of a glottal stop. It's something long, or deliberate, not short or abrupt. When describing a state of being, not a sound, it usually means something that's continuous. Words that end in long vowels refer to a sense of continuation or longness. Something is happening and it's happening for a long time.
These words are like sprinkling some delicious spice into your language. They don't just add emphasis and color, they add a sense of native understand to your speech. That is, if you know how to use them. Onomatopoeia can take quite a few grammatical forms and many of them would sound either repetitive or unnatural in English.
But in Japanese the repetitiveness is completely normal. Just think of it the way you think of pronouns. In Japanese it makes sense to say the name of the person you're talking about a lot, but in English it sounds strange. Let's look at some examples:. See, that wasn't so bad! You know just about everything there is to know about Japanese onomatopoeia now. So let's go back to those basic verbs you know and add some flavor to them:. Was this guide just not enough for you?
Here are our reviews of some great English language resources:. While researching for this guide I found a serious lack of reliable English language information. I could look up each word I found on trusty Jisho. Japanese language sources were also, surprisingly, few and far between.
Japanese Onomatopoeia: The Guide
Go crazy, kids! Tofugu View All Series. View All Japan. View All Japanese. View All Interviews. View All Reviews. View All Travel. Classification There are thousands of onomatopoeia in Japanese. These are also used heavily in manga. Gwilym Lockwood wrote a short, but interesting article, arguing that mimetic words have a universal quality to them using the following list: See if you can guess the meanings of these Japanese ideophones: nurunuru — dry or slimy? So something about these sounds hold meaning for us.
Keep this in mind as you read on.
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Consonants Most Japanese syllables start with a consonant. Vowels These are just as important as consonants. Here are some examples: Reduplication Just as in many other languages, the reduplication of a sound symbolizes repetition in sound or action. We add them to our spoken and written language to add something more substantial, more visceral. It's like adding color, flavor, or texture to what you're saying. In Japanese, a language that many people have so inaccurately called "vague" in the past, onomatopoeia are there to fill that void.
And not just in the ways we hear and see them in English as well as most Western European languages. But there comes a time when you have to put down that textbook Japanese and throw in some flare. Lazily roll out of bed, gobble down some food, and sleep soundly. There are thousands of onomatopoeia in Japanese. Here are 5 categories they can be broken up into:. If you know your kanji, the differences between them should be pretty easy to recognize if you do see them in the wild. Giseigo and giongo are just like onomatopoeia we have in English. The cow goes moo. The machine is whirring.
They represent real sounds you can hear. The last three describe what's called mimetic words , or ideophones. They describe or represent something that has no sound. The way you feel, the way you walk, and even your skin has an onomatopoeia to describe it. These mimetic words don't really exist in English, which makes mastering them difficult when learning Japanese. Let's take a look at each of these groups of words.
These are sounds that humans and animals make. Some of them may sound very similar to what you learned growing up, and maybe some sound even closer to what you hear than what you write in your language. These are also real sounds. They're the ones you see used in manga and anime. They're the sound of the wind moving through the trees, the door slamming shut, and the phone ringing. Basically, any sound you hear that isn't coming out of the mouth of a person or animal falls under this category. These describe movements and motions, usually relating to walking or traveling from place to place.
Onomatopoeia are written using either hiragana or katakana. While there are no definitive rules saying when you should use one or the other, in Jazz Up Your Japanese with Onomatopoeia , the author states that hiragana is used for "soft sounds" and katakana is used for "hard sounds" and emphasis. You'll see lots of back and forth in which one is used the more you read, which is just another reason why learning both hiragana and katakana is really important. For the purposes of this guide, and consistency, I'll be providing all of the examples in hiragana.
Some onomatopoeia have kanji, and even though you'll probably never see it used, it does exist.
Here's what it looks like:. Most words in languages are arbitrary.
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Someone, someday decided that the sun in the sky would be called the "sun. This arbitrary "it's the sun because I said so" stuff is pretty much thrown out the window when it comes to onomatopoeia, and even mimetic words. Gwilym Lockwood wrote a short, but interesting article, arguing that mimetic words have a universal quality to them using the following list:.
Take a look at the full list and the answers. You got most of them right, didn't you? Most Japanese syllables start with a consonant. Because the Japanese alphabet is extremely kind, it's mostly phonetic. This means that each sound is spelled exactly the way it is pronounced. And every written character is pronounced, unlike English, which has silent letters. Also, thanks to this, there are two neat little symbols called the dakuten and handakuten.