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What is Onomatopeia?


"Onomatope" is a word adopted from the French language "onomatopée". In Japanese language, we call them imitative words and mimetic words; "Giongo and Gitaigo". However, in this teaching material, we are going to use "onomatope" as a generic name which includes both imitative and mimetic words.

「オノマトペ」はフランス語の「onomatopée」から採られた単語です。日本語では「擬音語(ぎおんご)」「擬態語(ぎたいご)」と呼ばれています。 しかしこの教材では、私たちは「オノマトペ」を、擬態語と擬態語の両方を含む総称として使用します。

"Onomatope" is used frequently in the Japanese language, for example, the rain is falling heavily "ザーザー(za:za:)" and the stars are twinkling "きらきら (kirakira)". Undoubtedly every language has onomatopoeia, but it seems that despite the number of words or species, they are not as succinctly used in these other languages as they are in the Japanese language. That is the reason why Japanese language is referred to as a language fertile in onomatopoeia.

「オノマトペ」は日本語でよく使われています。例えば雨が激しく降っている「ザーザー(za:za :)」、星が瞬いている「キラキラ(kirakira)」。どの言語にも擬音語はありますが、単語や種の数にもかかわらず、それらが日本語の場合ほど簡潔に使用されているわけではないようです。それが日本語がオノマトペで肥沃な言語と呼ばれる理由です。

A speech sound which is expressing the natural noise of things, such as buzz, crackle, splash and wail are called imitative words. Imitative words are divided into two parts; one is non-living thing's noise such as; "heavy" rainfall : "ザーザー(za:za:)" and "tap" at the door : "トントン(tonton)" . And the other one is living thing's sound such as; "bow-wow": "ワンワン(wanwan)" and "meow": "ニャーニャー(nya:nya:)".

buzz(騒音)、crackle(パチパチ音)、splash(しぶきの音)、wail(嘆き)など、ものごとの音を表現している言葉は、擬音語と呼ばれています。擬音語は2つに分けられます。1つは次のような非生物の音です。 大雨の「 ザーザー」や、 ドアを叩く「トントン」。そしてもう1つは次のような生物の音です。 「ワンワン」や 「ニャーニャー」。

Mimetic words is a speech sound which describes things or living things included human being's movement, condition and situation without any sound. Mimetic words are divided into three kinds: showing the condition of non-living thing, such as "glittering" : "きらきら(kirakira)" and "slippery": "つるつる(tsurutsuru)", showing the condition of living thing such as "groggy": "ふらふら(furafura)" and "loitering": "のろのろ(noronoro)" and showing human feeling such as "impatiently": "いらいら(iraira)" and "excitedly": "わくわく(wakuwaku)" .


"KIRAKIRA" Onomatopoeia by Tokyo Metropolitan University Japanese language education / Nishigori Jiro

首都大学東京 人文科学研究科 日本語教育学 / 西郡 仁朗 教授 著 「キラキラオノマトペ」より