Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Will Miss #250 - Japanese onomatopoeia

A "fuwa fuwa" (fluffy) marshmallow cake.

The Japanese language has a lot of onomatopoeia. For those who are unfamiliar, those are words that sound like or suggest the concept they are meant to convey. I've never counted how many we have in English, but I'm pretty sure the Japanese have many more. I encounter a lot of them while snack blogging. For instance, "saku saku" is crispy and "fuwa fuwa" is fluffy. These appeal to me on two levels. First of all, they always sound rather "cute" to me (for lack of a better word). I think part of the reason for this is that they are usually two sounds repeated. The second appeal is the way in which they reflect perceptions or sounds to the Japanese mind or ear. Dogs in America go "arf" or "bark", but in Japan, they go "wan wan".  Hearing onomatopoeia in another language make me ponder how we actually conceive sounds based on our own language.

This is part of the language which continues to fascinate me and I'm going to miss it.