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With many 擬音語 (ぎおんご, onomatopoeia) and 擬態語 (ぎたいご, mimetic words) there is a double form, where the word is repeated, and a form with っと at the end. For example:

  • きらきら -> きらっと (sparkling)
  • ぴかぴか -> ぴかっと (twinkling)
  • ぺろぺろ -> ぺろっと (slavering?)
  • ちらちら -> ちらっと (fluttering)
  • ごろごろ -> ごろっと (rumbling)
  • どきどき -> どきっと (suddenly?)

Is there one of these forms for every 擬音語/擬態語? I couldn't find some in the dictionary. How are the two forms used differently? Is this っと just another grammatical form (like という)? And what about the similar forms ちらり, ちらりと and ちらと or きらりと and きらり?

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っと means for a short time. for example きらきら is sparkling all the time but きらっと means it just sparkled for a moment. And it's same for others too.

What you are mistaken is that we write 擬態語 in Hiragana (平仮名 (I wasn't sure if I wrote the English part right so I wrote it in Japanese)) and that we write 擬音語 in Katakana (片仮名). And for for 擬音語 we don't usually use っと. ごろごろ for instance.

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  • あれ?『どきどき』とか『ぱたぱた』とか駄目ですか?
    – Amanda S
    Jun 25 '11 at 0:45
  • それって擬声語ですよね?どきどきとか、聞こえるときもありますし、パタパタも鳥が羽ばたくときに聞こえるから擬声語だと思いましたが。 Jun 25 '11 at 3:47
  • 誤解してしまったかもしれないけど、擬態語は平仮名で書いて擬音語はカタカナで書くと言いましたよね?でも、絶対じゃないでしょう?『パタパタ』も『ぱたぱた』も見たことあるので...
    – Amanda S
    Jun 25 '11 at 5:42
  • 私の学校の先生はそういいましたし、その先生は文法の先生でしたがね・・・  でも私はひらがなのパタパタはあまり見たことありませんよ Jun 25 '11 at 23:17
  • そうですか...でも、平仮名で書いた『どきどき』は見たことあるでしょう、擬音語なのに?カタカナで書いた『キラキラ』も、擬態語なのに?だから、先生の言ったことは『推奨の書き方』にしかならないでしょうか?
    – Amanda S
    Jun 25 '11 at 23:59
1

Good article on the topic: http://nihonshock.com/2013/04/japanese-onomatopoeia/

Briefly summarized:

Basically, most giongo/gitaigo can take four forms with basically the same meaning

Doubling(にこにこ)

To-ending(にこっと)

Ri-ending(にこり)

Combination of the previous two (にっこり)

Probably the only difference in meaning is described by Hikari in the other answer: the doubled form can indicate a continuous state while the -to or -ri is a brief action or a change in state. Note that in manga the final と may be missing (ニコッ).

Sometimes you may also encounter doubling of otherwise “standard” one/two syllable words and which usually have kanji forms unlike onomatopoeia, e.g.

色々(いろいろ)

堂々(どうどう)

Some of these can appear with a following と but they can’t be used in “halved” mode (e.g. いろっと can only be used when quoting someone).

Also there exist a category of adverbs with -ri or -to endings which do not (AFAIK) appear in doubled form: がっかり、しっかり、はっきり、ちゃんと、きっと and so on (see the article for more examples).

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