- The Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence
- 人工知能学会論文誌 (ISSN:13460714)
- vol.30, no.1, pp.274-281, 2015
Japanese "onomatopoeic" words (also called mimetics and ideophones) are more frequent in spoken discourse, especially in informal daily conversations, than in writing. It is a common belief that onomatopoeia is particularly frequent in some areas, such as the Kinki region. To examine the plausibility of this folk dialectology, we investigated the frequency of onomatopoeia in the Minutes of the Diet as a corpus of spoken Japanese. We examined whether there is really a difference in the use of onomatopoeia among the eleven major regions of Japan. We analyzed the conversation data (limited to the last two decades) according to the hometowns of the speakers. The results revealed that there is no cross-regional difference in the overall frequency of onomatopoeia and non-onomatopoeic adverbs. However, a particular morphological type of onomatopoeia?i.e., "emphatic" onomatopoeia, such as hakkiri 'clearly'?did show a regional variation in frequency. The results suggest that different types of onomatopoeia have different functions. The present study introduced a "macro-viewpoint" method that is based on a large-scale database. Further investigations into the functional aspect of onomatopoeia will also benefit from a dialectological method that adopts a "micro-viewpoint" on the detailed descriptions of a small number of speakers from each region. We hope that the present quantitative approach to the sociolinguistics of onomatopoeia will offer a new perspective on dialectology and on the effective utilization of onomatopoeia in the field of information science.