LINGUIST List 8.1525

Fri Oct 24 1997

Qs: Japanese Onomatopoeia, Japanese in Hawaii

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  1. Mami Iwashita, Q: Japanese onomatopoeia
  2. david l lewis, Japanese in Hawaii

Message 1: Q: Japanese onomatopoeia

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 09:46:17 +0000
From: Mami Iwashita <>
Subject: Q: Japanese onomatopoeia

Dear Linguists,

I will forward one of my Honours students message. I would really
appreciate it if someone could give her some suggestions.

Thank you very much.

- ---------------------------------------------------------------------
I am looking for a fairly comprehensive listing of the sound symbolism
used within Japanese onomatopoeia, ie. the different meaning conveyed
through the use of [k] in " kirakira " and [gi] in " giragira ". Also
in English, the sound symbolism of such consonant clusters as [sw]
indicating a smooth, broad movement as in "swoop", "sweep", "swing".
Or the vowel cluster [oo] in "boom", "loom", "doom", "gloom" -
conveying perhaps a sense of depth, darkness or forboding. And what
are the combined effects of different consonant clusters with
different vowel sounds? For example does [oo] have a different effect
with the bilabials [b] and [m] in "boom" than it does in a word like
"scoot", where it is combined with different consonants?

(To me both these words have a suggestion of a continuation - of sound
in "boom" and of movement in "scoot", however the [b] and [m] seem to
imply a slower speed than the [sc] and [t]. Obviously such concepts
would tend to be unique to a language or languages of similar origin
(such as French and English), and therefore there will most likely be
quite different associations with sounds between Japanese and English.
This would certainly be something that a translator would need to keep
in mind when translating onomatopoeia or words with onomatopoeic
effect from one language to the other. An onomatopoeic word whose
sound connotations are pleasant in one language, may be translated to
an ononatopoeic word in the other language whose sound connatations
are definately unpleasant - I can't think of any examples of this
until I know the associations involved, but maybe there are some.)

- The University is 'dropping' the Department section of all staff addresses.



Dept of Asian Languages and Studies, University of Tasmania,
GPO Box 252-91, Hobart, Tas., 7001, Australia
[Ph] 61-3-6226-2343 [Fax] 61-3-6226-7813

:) (my favourite) :-D (new version!?) (^.^) (Japanese version)
Here's one more : B-) (New Batman version!)

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Message 2: Japanese in Hawaii

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 14:31:36 -0400
From: david l lewis <>
Subject: Japanese in Hawaii

I am doing a research project on the Japanese community in Hawaii. I
have been able to find quite a lot in books and on the net about the
historical, social and political aspects of the question, but very
little on the ethno-linguistic front. I read that Japanese coming to
Hawaii at the end of the 19th century communicated with non-Japanese
people in a Pidgin imported from the China port cities which had
already become established. They added a few words of their own to a a
brew which already had Chinese, Hawaiian and Portuguese words
sprinkled in the English solvent (from Smith, BRadford, 1948).
Moreover, I read they were fairly well educated, so I assume that,
although they came from different regions of Japan (diff dialects),
they were able to communicate in standard Japanese to a certain
extent. To which extent, I would like to know. Next, their kids were
educated in Japanese schools (even though there was a debate about

How successfull was it? How and how well did they learn English? Did
they also learn this Pidgin? How "standard" was their Japanese?
WWII brought changes to the community. Japanese schools were closed...
How did the language situation change afterwards? what was the
official position of the community wrt assimilation? what was the role
of institutions (newspapers, associations, churches...) both Japanese-
American and non in the postwar (and up to the present) situation?
And for the real linguists: how much did their Japanese take a local
flavour and how much their English take a Japanese flavour.
	Any clues will be welcome
	David L Lewis
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