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I learned from a Japanese friend that ふむふむ could be translated like "oh, I got it", "I see", "I know", or "ok". It could be also in this form: ふむふむ なるほど

But, my sister lived in Japan for 5 years, and she had never heard of it.

Is it still used?

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4  
It's not a word. It's a sound, and it's something like ‘hmmm’ in English (though not in meaning). –  Zhen Lin Aug 26 '11 at 4:52
    
In other posts I have referred to such things as "vocal noises" but I bet there's an actual term for them too. –  hippietrail Aug 27 '11 at 5:56
    
Yes, I have seen it recently actually, from coworker from Nagoya. –  wallyqs Aug 27 '11 at 15:12

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Friends and I quite often use "ふむ" (just once) in electronic communications in order to show acknowledgement, though with a very slight nuance of reluctance or thoughtful consideration.

Here's an example from a native Japanese speaker, after hearing about the context of a quiproquo:

ふむ。誤解されやすい書き方をしたので間違えて解釈されちゃったんだろう。

Though it's not "I know", it's definitely "OK", "I see" or something like that.

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+1 for "quiproquo" –  Matt Aug 27 '11 at 0:00

I use ふむ as well. Seldom ふむふむ. I think that's true for many people. I don't know how to put this well, but basically it sounds a bit.. um.. ridiculous maybe?
You see it often in manga.

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Do you use ふむ in speech? If so, how do you pronounce it? I am asking this because I find it hard to imagine that anyone says [ɸɯ↓mɯ], especially with the vowel in む. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Aug 26 '11 at 15:07
1  
@Ito Unless deliberate comic effect is intended, it's usually in the lines of "Hnn" or "Hmm". Enno: Just as how some people say そうかそうか (or そかそか) instead of just そうか, some people also repeat ふむ. –  syockit Aug 26 '11 at 17:29
    
@Tsuyoshi: syockit nailed it. I guess ふむふむ sounds a bit ridiculous because of the strong む. –  Enno Shioji Aug 28 '11 at 12:21

I think Sexy Commando says either "ふむふむ、なるなる..." or"なるふむなるふむ" while reading a newspaper in one episode. Obviously, this is a humorous use.

BTW, I have a great related oyaji gag: I put out my hand to see if it was raining. By chance, a bird flew overhead just then and dropped some poop, which fell into my hand. I looked at it and said ふーーん?

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