My son loves to read Japanese graphic novels. It could have something to with the fact he's part Japanese. Or maybe he just likes Manga.
I, too, find Japanese novels fascinating because they start where American novels end, and read in the opposite direction.
The other thing I find fascinating is that the Japanese graphic novels that are translated into English sometimes still have Japanese onomatopoeia. Other times, the onomatopoeia is translated into English, too, like "huh?" and "gyah!!!" I thought this was unintentional until a website changed my mind.
I'd like to dedicate this post to Kristen Dexter whose Definitive Guide has opened my eyes to the wonderful world of Japanese Onomatopoeia. All this information comes from her, and I'm simply highlighting the 'j' parts. Also, note that this post will be almost entirely in English, but on Kristen's website, you can learn the Japanese way to say it and write it.
On her website, Kristen explains that the Japanese have a word for "reduplication of a sound symbolizing repetition in sound or action". That word is jougo .
I don't know if there is a word in English for that, but it's basically the point I've been making this whole month. Some of the fun of onomatopoeia is that you get to be creative by repeating letters and words to add to the sense of the feelings and sounds you're going for. I love that!
So, now I have to learn how to pronounce that Japanese word so I'll have a label for that idea.
And another thing I learned on Kristen's website is that, unlike English onomatopoeia, Japanese have several words to express not just sounds but sensations, emotions, and states of being. Our onomatopoeia is mostly limited to actual sounds, with a few exceptions.
Take the word "jump" for example.
Most of our graphic novels will not have the actual word "jump" in the onomatopoeia, because really, it's pretty obvious from the art that they've jumped.
But Japanese onomatopoeia has many words to describe the kind of jumping that's happening, which really adds a new layer to the art.
There's jumping out of bed suddenly
I can understand the need for this kind of onomatopoeia, because people do wake up differently depending on the situation. You might need this word if:
Another jumping onomatopoeia the Japanese have is the sound of jumping into water.
We kind of have onomatopoeia for that, but ours is more about the water than what's jumping into it:
Then there's that quick jump down.
You know, from those places that have "Watch Your Step" Signs?
Or that time when you see something that makes you yell,
"GET DOWN FROM THERE!"
What kid would only step down from that?
Well, the Japanese have an onomatopoeia to describe it!
Then there's the jumping up and standing erect.
Like a soldier.
Or like Wesley when he gets out of bed.
Definitely not jumping out of bed suddenly, but it might be considered jumping up and standing erect.
Then, of course, there's that happy jump we Americans like to see at the end of a movie when the protagonist finally gets what they want and jump for joy in victory.
Boy, who knew there were so many ways to jump?
The Japanese know, apparently!
So, why does it matter that other languages have different onomatopoeia, anyway?
I think it matters because the more we understand each other, the more we can appreciate each other's culture.
And I think that's important.
The other reason it matters, I think, is so that we can come together to make a wonderful piece of art that transcends cultures and speaks to all of us.
Like this Japanese TV show based on a Swedish book, translated into English.
And I've just scratched the surface of all the awesome info Kristen put about Japanese onomatopoeia on her website. Seriously, check it out!
P.S. I know this post is late - even for my schedule. I was already to put it up, but my hubby needed help on a project that. couldn't. wait.
P.P.S. If you're wondering what 'my schedule' is all about, it's because I decided not to start on Sunday. So, yeah, I'm a day later than everyone else. And often I don't even get to the daily letter list in time to add my post. But I don't really care - I'm having fun writing up these posts!
P.P.P.S. If you're wondering what I'm talking about 'being late', then you probably don't know about the #AtoZChallenge. Which is a shame. And a problem you can fix right now by clicking the button below.
P.P.P.P.S. If you're wondering why this post has so many post scripts... I don't really know. Just seemed like a good idea at the time.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)