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Japanese onomatopoeias


torakris
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My friend is a doctor of Internal medicine in Tokyo and he said the Japanese people eat way too much food that is at extremes of the temperature scale and that it is not too healthy. For example, a piping hot bowl of ramen and a glass of ice water along with it.

This is a problem. This increases the risks of getting cancer of the gullet. But it's so hard to get rid of the old habit...

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An onomatopoeic word is often reduplicated.  This I think reflects the fact that the associated sound is often repeated.  For example, a dog barks 'wan-wan' in Japanse (bow-wow in English).  But, if a dog barks only once, we will say 'wan to hoeru' (where to is a postposition), not 'wan-wan to hoeru'.  When we say 'soba o tsuru-tto taberu' (where -tto is a postposition), instead of 'tsuru-tsuru', this means an action of eating buckwheat noodle at one slurp.

Some common words are also reduplicated to mean a plural.  For example, yama-yama means mountains and kami-gami (not kami-kami) means gods.  When we talk to small children, we sometimes use such expressions as o-te-te (hands) and o-me-me (eyes) where o is a honorific prefix.

This is such an interesting thread: not only how different language-speakers "hear" (and then spell) sounds, but how their intricacies (like torakris' example of 'pari pari' = crunchy) are totally invisible to the non-Japanese speaker.

Perhaps not surprising. :blink::smile:

There is also reduplication (I learned a new word!) in Quebec French: "poupoune" is a woman who dresses like a doll, and "gougoune" is a slip-on sandal. i can't think of any food examples... :raz:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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ひたひた Hitahita

What would you do if you were asked to put ingredients in a pot and add water until it becomes 'hitahita'?

Don't add enough water to cover the ingredients, but in such a way that only a fraction of the ingredients is above the water level, like in the illustration in the following link:

http://www.recipe.nestle.co.jp/from1/cook/...hitahitano.html

This link shows three photos, along with an explanation of hitahita (left photo), kaburu kurai (middle), and tappuri (left).

Kaburu kurai = Just enough (water) to cover (something)

Tappuri = Plenty

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There is also reduplication (I learned a new word!) in Quebec French: "poupoune" is a woman who dresses like a doll, and "gougoune" is a slip-on sandal. i can't think of any food examples...  :raz:

Couscous, though of course it's from North Africa.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Yes, repeating words in Japanese is common. My first language is Japanese, but now I don't have much occasion to speak Japanese in my own environment. However, when encountering certain things, I still say such things as:

Samui samui instead of cold cold. It would be very awkward for me to say cold cold or hot hot, but very natural for me to say atsu atsu.

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コトコト Kotokoto

クツクツ Kutsukutsu (similar to kotokoto)

グツグツ Gutsugutsu (stronger than kotokoto and kutsukutsu)

These words are often followed by niru (boil/simmer) and nikomu (boil/simmer thoroughly).

When I make 'kabocha no nimono' (simmered squash), I simmer kabocha 'kotokoto' for ten minutes or so. If I simmer it 'gutsugutsu', it tends to disintegrate 'boroboro'. I try to make sure that my kabocha no nimono is 'hokuhoku' (not soggy), but sometimes fail :sad: (depending on the variety of kabocha used).

グラグラ Guragura

This word is often followed by niru, nikomu, nitatsu (come to a (rolling) boil), and nitataseru (bring ... to a (rolling) boil).

When making miso soup, I never bring the soup to a 'guragura' boil once I add miso.

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When I make 'kabocha no nimono' (simmered squash), I simmer kabocha 'kotokoto' for ten minutes or so.  If I simmer it 'gutsugutsu', it tends to disintegrate 'boroboro'.  I try to make sure that my kabocha no nimono is 'hokuhoku' (not soggy), but sometimes fail  :sad: (depending on the variety of kabocha used).

That sentence is a perfect example of how these words are used in everyday language, I could imagine myself or someone else saying this exact sentence and I wouldn't think a thing about it. :biggrin:

You must have pretty big pieces of kabocha to simmer them kotokoto for 10 minutes, I simmer them at a kotokoto simmer/boil for only about 5...

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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You must have pretty big pieces of kabocha to simmer them kotokoto for 10 minutes, I simmer them at a kotokoto simmer/boil for only about 5...

I usually cut a kabocha into chunks measuring about 1 x 1 in. (2 to 3 cm). 5 minutes is too short for me.

***

I forgot to mention that guragura can also mean 'shaky' or 'wobbly' as in

Jishin de manshon ga gatagata yureta.

(The condo jolted because of the earthquake.)

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I made miso soup with mizuna and aburaage for supper this evening. My wife and I both laughed when our son suddenly said, "Shakishaki shite umai!" (I'm not lying; he said that in so many words.)

Shakishaki is hard to translate -- fresh and crunchy?

Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...
Video-game lore has it that Pacman got its name from the "pacu-pacu" phrase, due to its creators' pizza nibbling...

PacMan was conceived at lunchtime... literally. The designer was very hungry, and ordered a whole pizza for himself. He took one slice, and Pacman was born. The name PacMan is derived from the Japanese slang word "paku-paku", which means "to eat". The game was called "PuckMan" in Japan, but due to American's predilection with changing words to vulgarities by scratching part of the word off (Puck to..well, you know), it was changed to PacMan.

from here

you learn new things everyday :biggrin:

now the question is what to do with that knowledge..... :blink:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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what about zaku zaku - isnt that the potato chip sound? or saku saku - cutting fresh veggies.

and of course, we should include peko peko - Onaka peko peko desu! (I'm starving!)

another fave - nechi nechi - like when i eat caramels and they stick to my teeth!

lastly, i want to add guu guu - the sound of my stomach rumbling like there is a monster in there trying to get out!

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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