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 — Mark Twain





1000 Japanese Onomatopoeia

By William de Lange


To any student of the Japanese language, the staggering number of onomatopoeia seems so daunting that one simply does not know where to begin. What, for instance, to make of karakara, karikari, kurikuri, or korikori? They may sound pretty similar, but to the Japanese ear they carry a wealth of information, modulated by emphasis, context, and grammatical function. Thus karakara can be used to describe someone laughing loudly, a vehicle rattling along, being parched with thirst, or being out of money. Meanwhile  karikari has the distinctly different meanings of being crispy, or being irritable. The same is true for kurikuri, which is used to describe either something fat and rotund, or round and lovable. Only korikori carries a similar meaning (to karikari) of being crunchy, but then more chewy.

This is the first comprehensive dictionary of Japanese onomato­poeia. Multiple English sample sentences highlight every meaning and nuance of expressions used by Japanese speakers of all walks of life—from hip youths in Roppongi to erudite professors at university.

Language Series


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