I’m still getting over jet lag after my hop from Japan to San Diego. Here’s s fun, light article on repeating Japanese words that are super easy to learn and use!
In my long-ish post on how I learned Japanese, I make the case that Japanese is actually not that difficult a language to learn. It lacks many of the famously difficult features of other languages, like tonality (you never need to worry about intonation with Japanese words, unlike Thai and Mandarin), genders for nouns as in Romance languages, and many complex grammar constructions found in English simply don’t exist in nihongo. Basically, once you realize that kanji is impossible to learn to write properly because we live in a world of cell phones and computers in which even Japanese people forget how to write many kanji, Japanese becomes most less difficult of a language to learn.
When I was studying Japanese I found that elements of the language that were totally unlike English, especially the cute-sounding onomatopoeia-like words which added so much expression to the language, to be downright enjoyable to learn. So here are ten cute repeating Japanese words that might be fun for you to memorize.
doki doki. Let’s start off with an easy one you probably already know, which is the heightened heartbeat you experience when you’re excited about something.
kira kira. Another word you might already know, this just means shining or twinkling. The opening lines of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in Japanese are kira kira hikaru, osora no hoshi yo…
Without the huge popularity of Urusei Yatsura, which helped create the modern manga and anime industry we have today, none of us would be where we are today.
Here’s a nice remastered version of one of the openings. pic.twitter.com/xnoT8JXN4U
— Peter Payne (@JListPeter) October 3, 2019
kyoro kyoro. My introduction to the strange world of repeating Japanese words, including onomatopoeia for unexpected things, was Urusei Yatsura, the breakthrough 1982 anime that helped me learn Japanese. In the above song, Lum asks Ataru to stop doing kyoro kyoro, which is the “sound” of eyes looking from left to right and back again, seeking a cute girl to hit on.
pera pera. This is an onomatopoeia that means “fluent at speaking a foreign language” such as English. Do not confuse with pero pero which is the “sound” of licking, in some contexts, licking where it smells funny.
pika pika. When something is shiny and new, literally glowing with newness, it’s said to be pika pika. This word also applies to the sound of crackling electricity, as Pikachu can tell you.
peko peko. If your stomach is growling like a comic scene from anime, you’re peko peko.
soro soro. Sometimes these repeating Japanese words can get surprisingly complex in their meaning. To express “well, it’s time to be going” or “the time has finally come” for something, you can use the adverb soro soro.
waza waza. Another similar example of a complex Japanese sound word is waza waza, which means “to have gone to great trouble to do…” If you go out of your way to do something for someone, they might say waza waza arigatou! (“Thanks for going out of your way to do this for me!”)
tama tama. This just means “by chance” or “by accident.” It’s also a cute way to refer to, er, a pair of balls.
— J-LIST (@jlist) March 12, 2019
Finally, ochinchin, which isn’t exactly the same as the above examples (which all contain four hiragana syllables), but the above is just too cute to not post here. The o literally means “honorable” and is put on various words that deserve special treatment (like money or someone you’re trying to be polite to), or are used with children.
This post was about learning some fun repeating Japanese words, which show that Japanese isn’t as complex and scary as it might sometimes seem. Got any questions about the Japanese langauge, or anything related to Japan? Hit us up on Twitter!
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