Those are Japanese terms for “words which express voice or sounds” and “words which express actions, states or human emotions,” respectively, and this website is all about them. As mj klein of Metrolingua, from whose post I got the link, says: “The only downside (not for me) is that you have to be able to read Japanese—there is no English or any other language there, not even in the about page of the site.” Go to her post for a description of the various features of the site; it sounds well worth bookmarking if you know Japanese!


  1. It’ll take this student a little deciphering, but it looks cool. Japanese’s huge lexicon of onomatopoeic words and how they supplement other vocabulary is fascinating. For example, there’s only one verb (I know of) for smile, laugh, and so on. But they combine that with a dozen or more gitaigo to get every shade of smiling, sneering, leering, giggling and so on imaginable.

  2. Hey, that IS a neat site. Even the little cartoons are nicely done. I’ve noticed that because these words are fun to teach, they often end up getting taught the best.
    Because I can’t resist: not intending to contradict Paul’s basic point, but there are actually two basic verbs for smile/laugh that get shaded by by the gitaigo: “emu” (which basically means “smile” and has mostly been replaced by the compound “hohoemu”) and “warau” (which basically means “laugh”). They can also both be applied to the blossoming of flowers, which I think is cool.

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