Go Go Nihongo! Volume #1: Doki Doki

Article by Akiko Nishio / Translated by Michelle Tan

Are you a fan of Japanese comics,
or as we call them, manga?

Apart from the characters’ dialogues, you might have noticed lots of quirky sound effects incorporated into the background, like, “burororo”, “donn”, “waku waku” and so on. These magical words, which imitate or resemble a particular sound, are known as onomatopoeia.

In English, onomatopoeia is subtly incorporated into written sentences, like the “hee-haw” of a donkey or the “pitter-patter” of raindrops on a roof. However, like our rich, multi-layered culture, the Japanese version of onomatopoeia is more dramatic, often used verbally to convey feelings, emotions and even expressions!

Every month, I’ll be introducing a Japanese onomatopoeia. Today, let’s talk about: “doki doki”. Imagine yourself feeling extremely worried, nervous or expectant. That fainting feeling in your head, the sweaty palms, and above all – the incessant thumping in your heart that seems to fill your ears and drown out everything else. Yes, you’re right. That heart-pounding sound is referred to as “doki doki” in Japanese.

Take myself, for example. Writing this column in Unlock Japan for the first time is exciting, but at the same time, nerve-wracking. Suffice to say, “doki doki” sums up what’s going through my mind right now.

See you next month!

About Nishio Sensei

“Hello readers!  It’s is a pleasure teaching all of you Japanese! Keep up with our monthly column!”

Akiko Nishio is the principal of A To Z Language Centre, with more than 19 years of experience in teaching Japanese.





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