In anime and Japanese television and so forth, I've noticed that people confronted with a sudden undesired stimulus, like heat or pain or cold, will often utter something like 熱っ【あつっ】! or 痛たた【いたたた】… or 寒【さむ】!, all of which follow the pattern of taking a word that describes the undesired stimulus and then modifying it in some way, like clipping it or extending it.

To my English ear, this sounds a little bit unusual, since in English, the things people exclaim when presented with an undesired stimulus are generally non-words (e.g. "Aaaah!" or "Ouch!" or "Brrrr") or profanities, rather than something like "Hot!" or "Painful!". This is the case even in works of fiction, though of course the exclamations might be more articulate or exaggerated than one would expect from real life.

Do Japanese speakers exclaim these sorts of things in real life?

  • I personally think of it as something similar to vocative case in Latin or whatever inflected from the nominative as a normal word.
    – user4092
    Jan 25 '15 at 5:22

Yes, saying those as the very first word after the stimulus is very common even in real life.

  • 痛【いた】っ! 痛たたた… いててて…
  • 寒【さむ】っ!
  • 臭【くさ】っ!
  • 熱【あつ】っ! 熱つつつ… あちちち…
  • うるさっ!
  • 汚【きたな】っ!
  • 痒【かゆ】っ!
  • 旨【うま】っ!

We don't say 寒むむむむ or 臭ささささ for some reason... perhaps because they're difficult to pronounce? And as you can see in the last example, you can sometimes use this kind of expressions for pleasant but unexpected stimuli.



But there are many, many variations as you might have guessed.

For example,

あっつっ!instead of あつっ!and so on.

There are also regional differences.

For certain regions in Japan, さむい is spoken さぶい。 So, さぶっ!


When it comes to expressing sudden emotional changes Japanese uses descriptors rather that onomatopoeia.

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