Yosuke Matoba From Japan Presents: Onomatopoeia, Japanese Sound Symbolism!


Today, Yosuke Matoba from Japan, presented to the school as part of EC Montreal’s Student Academic Lecture series.  We ask our students to choose a topic they are passionate about and our EC instructors help prepare the students for their presentations.

Yosuke decided to speak to us about onomatopoeia.  He began his presentation by showing a short video illustration the meaning of onomatopoeia.  The video had sounds and words appearing on a black screen.  We heard animal sounds, a baby crying and sounds of nature.  He then explained to us that onomatopoeia is the formation of a word, as cuckoo, meow, honk, or boom, by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent.

He personalized his presentation by explaining how onomatopoeia is used often in the Japanese language.  He informed us that there are only 120 syllables in the Japanese language so the use of sounds becomes more and more important.

He used an example of the English words; crawling, striding and strolling.  In Japanese, for example, all these three actions are described as walking.  The only difference is that they put an onomatopoeia in front of the word walk to describe the act.

He gave us some other examples of onomatopoeia such as “shiin” which means silence.  In English, when we want to silence someone, we hush them by making the sound “shhhh”.

Everyone seemed very interested in Yosuke’s topic of discussion.  We learned so much from him.  We encourage all our students who chose to study English in Canada with EC to volunteer to give the next presentation!