Hot answers tagged sound-symbolism
The only real difference between what you call vocal noises and regular interjections (such as "Well well", "Wow!" or "Ouch!") is that these vocal noises do not fit into the phonology of their language, usually for one of two reasons: They use sounds that are not inside the phoneme inventory of the language, such as "tsk tsk" which is actually a dental ...
It is not 100 percent clear, but I will try to list up the many theories that have been established: Japanese does not have as many verbs as other languages to express subtle nuances of an action. For example, in English, we can say daddle, waddle, trudge and toddle, whereas in Japanese, you would express these nuances with mimetic words like ...
Onomatopoeia vary a lot between languages (for example, nicely illustrated!), and what you think sounds like or unlike the real sound is much more cultural than absolute. If you are referring to new, or at least, not-in-dictionary 擬音語｛ぎおんご} in manga etc, and how to tell their meaning, I think they are often in practice just variants on existing sound effects ...
A few friends of mine say it quite often, to express some kind of slight compassion. If someone said "I have to work on Sunday", they would say "arara, what a pity" (あらら、大変です) in return. I would consider it a real word/interjection.
According to this: http://kotobank.jp/word/%E3%81%82%E3%82%89%E3%82%89 It is a word that is used when you are surprised or astonished. Perhaps like the English "woah"?
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