Japanese Onomatopoeia

Posted on 01. Jun, 2009 by in Uncategorized

There are different types of Japanese onomatopoeia. Today we’re going to just focus on one of the onomatopoeia. I’ll do another post on the others later. Today’s onomatopoeia is giseigo (擬声語). Giseigo (擬声語) is the type of onomatopoeia that mimics actual sounds. You’ll actually see what I mean with the examples below. You can see a lot of onomatopoeia in Japanese manga (まんが) or comics. The words are sometimes written with the katakana (かたかな) for emphasis.

nyaa nyaa: (ニャーニャー) meow meow (the sound cats make)

goro goro: (ゴロゴロ) purr purr (the sound cats make)

wan wan: (ワンワン) woof woof (the sound a dog makes)

moo moo: (モーモー) muu muu (the sound that cows make)

mee mee: (メーメー) baa baa (the sound sheeps make)

hihiin: (ヒヒーン) neigh neigh (the sound horses make)

chuu chuu: (チューチュー) chirp chirp (the sound a bird makes)

kin kon (キンコン) ding dong (the sound of a door bell)

kushu (クシュ) achoo (the sound of a sneeze)

tsuu (ツー) buzzz (sound of insects, bees)

kero kero (ケロケロ) ribit ribit (sound of frogs croaking)

buu buu (ブーブー) oink oink (the sound of pigs)

kokekokkoo (コケコッコー) cockadoodle doo (sound of rooster)

Onomatopoeias differ by language and culture. I encourage you to post the onomatopoeias in your own language, using the katakana in the comment section.

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12 Responses to “Japanese Onomatopoeia”

  1. Hani Sharliza 27 September 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Thank you for the information on Japanese onomatopoeia. I stumbled upon this blog while searching for gitaigo and giseigo. I m a teacher of Japanese language, i m at the same time still working on improving my own Japanese language.
    Really onomatopoeia is interesting, especially because it differs by language and culture. It is difficult to write the onomatopoeia in my mother tongue using katakana, but just to give two examples of giseigo ;[miaw] – sound cats make, [mbek mbek]- sound goats make.

  2. ben 18 December 2009 at 6:31 am #

    Thanks for the post, my partner is Japanese and we have two children together. It is amazing how different onomatopoeia in Japanese is as opposed to English.
    Although I must admit my favorite is the kids word for a poo: un-co (just imagine yourself straining on the toilet and the verbal noise you make)!
    Sorry to add toilet humor but I could’nt resist.

  3. ガチマヤー 18 December 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    I’ve always heard グルグル (guru-guru) for the purring of a cat.

    More:

    frog == ゲロゲロ (gero-gero)
    baby bird == ピーピー (pii-pii)
    click == カチッ (kachi)
    thunder/rumble == ゴロゴロ (goro-goro)

    and about kajillion others.

    (Not a native speaker. Take with salt.)

  4. Koiboyjapan 22 December 2009 at 4:27 am #

    How about some kiddies ones…

    biri-biri (ビリビリ) sound of paper ripping
    jyaa-jyaa (ジャージャー) sound of running water from a tap
    buin-buin (ブインーブイン) sound of a vacuum cleaner running
    dokan (ドンカン) sound of something large and heavy hitting something else
    puppuu-puppu (プップープップー) sound of a trumpet
    kan-kan (カンカン) sound of a railway crossing
    aan-aan (アーンアーン)sound of a crying baby
    buun-buun (ブーンブーン)sound of a flying airplane
    nyan-nyan (ニャンニャン) Sound of a cat meowing
    buu-buu (ブーブー) sound of a car engine running

  5. Juampa 24 December 2009 at 12:26 pm #

    Awesome. Some ecuadorian spanish ones:

    Guau Guau – a dog barking
    Quiquiriqui – cockadoodldedo

  6. Meegoh 28 July 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    Its really hard to study these characters.. =( but i have been doing constant practice these days. thanks for the chart.

  7. Snickerdoodle 12 September 2010 at 2:06 am #

    pera pera ペラペラ == the sound of being fluent in a language
    gaa gaa ガーガー == quack quack (sound a duck makes)
    That’s all I can think of that’s not been mentioned.

  8. gia 31 October 2010 at 11:02 am #

    pika-pika ピカーピカ (sound of something that’s sparkling. )

  9. Meow 18 November 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    The image that comes to mind upon reading kushu (クシュ) is a lil’ girl sitting on the ground sneezing. Cute

  10. lance 19 November 2010 at 2:31 am #

    doki doki (sound of heart beat)

  11. Mia 22 January 2011 at 1:36 am #

    One word: Wow! Been reading trhough the posts on this blog and Im wildly impressed! This is now my new homepage, and I hop you will continue with the inspirational work.

  12. Connie 24 June 2011 at 5:51 am #

    Mexico’s onomatopoeias

    miau miau: meow meow (the sound cats make)

    purr purr: (ゴロゴロ) purr purr (the sound cats make)

    guau guau: (ワンワン) woof woof (the sound a dog makes)

    muu muu: (モーモー) muu muu (the sound that cows make)

    bee bee: (メーメー) baa baa (the sound sheeps make)

    hiiiiih: (ヒヒーン) neigh neigh (the sound horses make)

    pío pío: (チューチュー) chirp chirp (the sound a bird makes)

    din don(キンコン) ding dong (the sound of a door bell)

    achuuuuu (クシュ) achoo (the sound of a sneeze)

    bzzzz (ツー) buzzz (sound of insects, bees)

    ribit ribit(ケロケロ) ribit ribit (sound of frogs croaking)

    oink oink (ブーブー) oink oink (the sound of pigs)

    kikiriki (コケコッコー) cockadoodle doo (sound of rooster)

    Well..those are the ones I’ve heard & known since I was a baby :)


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