Onomatopoeia and the Showing–Saying of Japanese Culture

  • Ryoko SasamotoEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Sound book series (PASTS)


This chapter sets out to examine the contribution of onomatopoeia in multimodal discourse with a particular focus on Japanese manga, where onomatopoeia is prevalently used in a highly stylised manner. This suggests that, in addition to both showing and saying elements which onomatopoeia has by nature, onomatopoeia in manga has a further showing element, giving rise to further effects, by triggering the search for extra effects and attracting the reader’s attention. That is, onomatopoeia’s multi- and cross-modal nature allows for the bridging of senses, which naturally falls into place in visually oriented Japanese culture and media.


  1. Berndt, Jaqueline. 2011. Manga as “Media Geijutsu”. The Locality and Universality of “Media Geijutsu”: Beyond “Cool Japan. ICOMAG 2011.Google Scholar
  2. Cohn, Neil. 2014a. The Architecture of Visual Narrative Comprehension: The Interaction of Narrative Structure and Page Layout in Understanding Comics. Frontiers in Psychology 5: 680. Scholar
  3. ———. 2014b. Visual Narrative Structure. Cognitive Science 37 (3): 413–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cooper-chen, Anne M. 2010. Cartoon Cultures: The Globalization of Japanese Popular Media. New York: Peter Lang Pub Inc.Google Scholar
  5. Eisner, Will. 2008. Comics and Sequential Art: Principles and Practices from the Legendary Cartoonist. 1st ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
  6. Fukuma, Yasuko. 1993. Manga-Ni Miru Giongo/Gitaigo-No Tokuisei-Ni Tuite [On the Peculiarity of Mimetics in Cartoons]. Kyuusyuu Daigaku Ryuugakusei-Kyooiku-Sentaa Kiyoo [Bulletin of the International Student Center of Kyushu University] 5: 185–196.Google Scholar
  7. Gravett, Paul. 2004. Manga: Sixty Years of Japanese Comics. 1st ed. New York: Harper Design.Google Scholar
  8. Guynes, Sean A. 2014. Four-Color Sound: A Peircean Semiotics of Comic Book Onomatopoeia. The Public Journal of Semiotics 6: 58–72.Google Scholar
  9. House, Jill. 2006. Constructing a Context with Intonation. Journal of Pragmatics 38 (10): 1542–1558.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hyuga, Shigeo. 1986. Manga No Giongo/Gitaigo (2) [Onomatopoeia in Manga]. Nihongogaku 15 (8): 98–108.Google Scholar
  11. Itoi, Michihiro. 1989. Buntai to Shite Mita “Manga No Kotoba” [Language of Manga as a Style]. Nihongogaku 8–9: 66–73.Google Scholar
  12. Kinsella, Sharon. 1999. Pro-Establishment Manga: Pop-Culture and the Balance of Power in Japan. Media, Culture & Society 21 (4): 567–572. Scholar
  13. Kitamura, H. 1987. Television Is a Fiction and Viewers Are Observers. Studies of Broadcasting 23: 141–153.Google Scholar
  14. Kusamori, Shinichi. 1968. Sutoori Manga No Bunpo Ron. Giseigo Gitaigo No Ronri [Grammar of Story Manga: Logic of Onomatopoeia]. Com.Google Scholar
  15. MacWilliams, Mark W. 2008. Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. London: Routledge.
  16. McCloud, Scott. 1993. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. Princeton, NJ: Kitchen Sink Press.Google Scholar
  17. ———. 2006. Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. New York: Harper.Google Scholar
  18. Morooka, Tomonori. 2010. The Onomatopoeias in Manga. Studies in Literature and Culture 47: 15–24.Google Scholar
  19. Natsume, Fusanosuke. 1997. Manga No Bunpo: Komikkugaku No Mikata [Grammar of Manga: Perspectives on Comic Studies]. Tokyo: Asahi Shimbunsha.Google Scholar
  20. ———. 2013. Manga Ni Okeru Onomatope [Onomatopoeia in Manga]. In Onomatope Kenkyu No Shatei: Chikazuku Oto to Imi, ed. Kazuko Shinohara and Ryoko Uno, 217–241. Tokyo: Hitsuji Shobo.Google Scholar
  21. O’Hagan, Minako. 2010. Japanese TV Entertainment: Framing Humour with Open Caption Telop. In Translation, Humour and the Media: Translation and Humour, ed. Delia Chiaro, vol. 2, 70–88. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  22. Petersen, Robert S. 2009. The Acoustics of Manga. In A Comics Studies Reader, ed. Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester, 163–172. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.
  23. Pratha, Nimish, Natalie Avunjian, and Neil Cohn. 2016. Pow, Punch, Pika, and Chu: The Structure of Sound Effects in Genres of American Comics and Japanese Manga. Multimodal Communication 5 (October): 93–109. Scholar
  24. Rohan, Olivia, Ryoko Sasamoto, and Rebecca Jackson. 2018. Argumentation, Relevance Theory and Persuasion: An Analysis of Onomatopoeia in Japanese Publications Using Manga Stylistics. International Review of Pragmatics 10 (2): 219–242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Sasamoto, Jun. 2000. Manga Hyogen Ni Okeru “Gion” No Hataraki [On the Function of “Gion” in Manga; Focusing on Its Role Word]. Vi.Google Scholar
  26. Sasamoto, Ryoko. 2014. Impact Caption as a Highlighting Device: Attempts at Viewer Manipulation on TV. Discourse, Context & Media 6: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Sasamoto, Ryoko, and Rebecca Jackson. 2016. Onomatopoeia—Showing-Word or Saying-Word? Relevance Theory, Lexis, and the Communication of Impressions. Lingua 175: 36–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sasamoto, Ryoko, Minako O’Hagan, and Stephen Doherty. 2017. Telop, Affect, and Media Design: A Multimodal Analysis of Japanese TV Programs. Television & New Media 18 (5): 427–440. Scholar
  29. Schodt, Frederik L. 1983. Manga! Manga! New York: Kodansha America Scholar
  30. ———. 1996. Dreamland Japan: Writings on Modern Manga. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press.Google Scholar
  31. Schwartz, Adam, and Eliane Rubinstein-Ávila. 2006. Understanding the Manga Hype: Uncovering the Multimodality of Comic-Book Literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 50 (1): 40–49. Scholar
  32. Scott, Kate. 2017. Prosody, Procedures and Pragmatics. In Semantics and Pragmatics: Drawing a Line, ed. Ilse Depraetere and Raphael Salkie, 323–341. Berlin: Springer International. Scholar
  33. Scott, Kate, and Rebecca Jackson. Forthcoming. When Everything Stands Out, Nothing Does: Typography, Expectations and Procedures. In Relevance Theory and Figuration, ed. Piskorska Agnieszka. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.Google Scholar
  34. Shiota, Eiko. 2003. Relevance Theory and Understanding Telops. The Graduate School Review of the English Language and Literature 31 (March): 63–91.Google Scholar
  35. Shitara, Kaoru. 2011. The Change of Telops on NHK Variety Shows. Bulletin of Mukogawa Women’s University, Humanities and Social Science 59: 1–9.Google Scholar
  36. Sontag, Susan. 1999. The Image World. In Visual Culture: The Reader, ed. Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall, 80–94. London and Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications in Association with the Open University.Google Scholar
  37. Sperber, Dan, and Deirdre Wilson. 1986/1995. Relevance: Communication and Cognition, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell. Google Scholar
  38. ———. 2015. Beyond Speaker’s Meaning. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 15 (2): 117–149.Google Scholar
  39. Tajima, Kaori. 2006. Onomatope (Giongo Gitaigo) Nit Suite. [On Onomatopoeia (Mimetics)]. Kansai Gaikokugo Daigaku Ryuugakusei-Bekka Nihongo-Kyooiku Ronsyuu [Studies in Japanese Language Education at the International Center of Kansai Gaidai University] 16: 193–205.Google Scholar
  40. Wharton, Tim. 2009. Pragmatics and Non-Verbal Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Scholar
  41. Yus, Francisco. 2009. Visual Metaphor Versus Verbal Metaphor: A Unified Account. In Multimodal Metaphor, ed. C. Forceville and E. Uriós-Aparisi, 145–172. Berlín: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SALISDublin City University SALISDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations