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Pyoon! Nyan! Pachi! – Learning the Japanese Onomatopoeia 2

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/19 Traditional Culture , , , , ,

In our last post about Japanese onomatopoeias, we talked about the first type which is the giseigo or words that mimic human and animal sounds. This time, we will talk about the other two types: giongo and gitaigo.

As we mentioned in the last post, the Japanese language is full of onomatopoeias. Some of them sound funny and some are hard to say. Though you will sound childish, but you can actually describe something that happened through the use of these onomatopoeias.

Giongo (擬音語)

These words are sound effects that don’t fall under the first type, giseigo, which are words that are naturally produced by humans and other living things. It may describe the rainfall, the movement of the clock, an explosion, or the blowing of the wind. These type of words are also usually seen in Japanese manga (Japanese for comics).

Sound Japanese (romaji) Japanese (katakana)
screech kii キイ
explosion don ドン
heart thumping doki-doki ドキドキ
sparkle pika-pika ピカピカ
knock on the door don-don ドンドン
silence shin シーン
sizzle piri-piri ピリピリ
full stomach pan-pan パンパン
empty stomach peko-peko ペコペコ
gulp goku-goku ゴクゴク
chomp/munch paku-paku パクパク
chewing musha-musha むしゃむしゃ
slurp zuu-zuu ズーズー
jump pyon-pyon ピョンピョン
long jump/leap pyoon ピョオン
snapping/crackling pachi パチ
pouring rain zaa-zaa ザーザー
wind pyuu ピュウ
rain para-para パラパラ
heat (from fire/sun) kan-kan カンカン
thunder goro-goro ゴロゴロ
don!

ドーン!! read as “don!” is a very common giongo. It signifies excitement or something has appeared. (Image from AC-Illust)

Gitaigo (擬態語)

Unlike the first two types, the giseigo and giongo, this type doesn’t try to imitate a sound of what it is describing. They don’t have a direct English equivalent. Gitaigo are called mimetic words because they try to mimic actions or qualities without necessarily imitating a sound. They describe feelings, qualities, and other silent actions.

Sound Japanese (romaji) Japanese (katakana/hiragana)
brisk, energetic kibi-kibi きびきび
clattering, rattling gara-gara ガラガラ
quickly dondon どんどん
plenty tappuri たっぷり
careless/carefree nou-nou ノウノウ
just barely girigiri ぎりぎり
stare jitto / jii じっと・じー
mumble/grumble butsu-butsu ぶつぶつ
chit-chat pecha-pecha ペチャペチャ
get excited waku-waku わくわく
smile niko-niko ニコニコ
isolated potsuri ポツリ
irritated ira-ira イライラ
feeling uneasy odo-odo オドオド
careless/thoughtless uka-uka うかうか
sweating dara-dara だらだら
shock/embarrassment Gaan ガーン
menacing/something big is approaching gogo (can be repeated many times) ゴゴ

 

Japanese onomatopoeias sure are interesting. They add liveliness to a conversation and enhances your imagination. What are other Japanese onomatopoeias that you know? Share it with us in the comments section below!

References:

1. Japanese Onomatopoeia Guide. Tofugu.

2. Manga Tutorials – Japanese Sound Effects List. Manga Tutorials.

3. Japanese Onomatopoeia: Giseigo, Giongo, and Gitaigo. Udemy.

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