Your 97-Word Mini Japanese Culture Lesson


A small assortment of random Japanese onomatopoeias, for you:

The dog says: wanwan

The cat says: nyaonyao

The baby chick says: piyopiyo

The rooster says: kokekokko

The gleaming, sparkling object says: pikapika

The knock on the door says: tonton

The door bell says: pinpon!

The crunchy snack says: sakusaku

The empty stomach says: pekopeko

The contented snorer says: guuguu

The rapidly beating heart says: dokidoki

The knocking knees say: gakugaku

The sneezer says: hakushon!

In Japanese, onomatopoeias are written in katakana and there is no equivalent for “bless you” or “gesundheit.” Hakushon is only met with silence.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ginger says:

    well, bless you comes from christianity, right? and the german word just means “health”, like salud. i guess it makes sense for the japanese not to have an equivalent. korea doesn’t either. it’s weird not to say something after hearing someone sneeze.

    my mom always says “god bless you” when i say goodnight and i always say “i didn’t sneeze.”

    also, the germans were really surprised to find out that we use their word after sneezing…english adopts crazy random words from so many languages! and i’d venture to say that most people in america don’t know what that german word means or even how to spell it (which i don’t want to do either).

    i think the sounds made in spanish are weirder than japanese, because the language is similar but the interpretations are different. the japanese have different alphabets to work from, so it makes sense for them to have different sounds.

    although most of them sound like something from a pokemon episode. picapica!

  2. Stan says:

    Hi, Liv.

    My girlfriend has become “americanized” as she puts it. When she sneezes – always in groups of threes – I say “bless you” and she now says “Thank you.” Also, her vast americanization extends to her hugging her parents when she’s about to leave the country and return to the States. Routinely, her parents freak out at the touching. I followed Aki’s lead in hugging her mom goodbye and I’m pretty certain that was an elbow I got to the stomach.

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