‘Pachi pachi’ or ‘kachi kachi’? Japan launches foreigners’ guide to tricky world of onomatopoeia

As foreign population reaches record levels, the western prefecture of Mie has compiled a guide for those who need it

It is a linguistic trap few learners of Japanese have avoided: declaring yourself pera pera (fluent in a language) when you’re really peko peko (hungry); or breaking into applause (pachi pachi) when the dentist asks you to kachi kachi (bite repeatedly).

Navigating the rich and varied world of Japanese onomatopoeia can result in laughter and mild embarrassment, but the words can also be a quick and effective way to get through to a friend or colleague.

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