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This occurrence appears to happen when the speaker is trying to sound cute, or is possibly under the influence of something... They break one of the words into syllables or characters, with pauses in between where they broke up the word.

For an archetypal example:

ご飯にする?お風呂にする?それとも、あ・た・し
"Do you want dinner? Or do you want a bath? Or do you want me?"

Or, when one character confesses their love to another, you might hear だ・い・す・き da-i-su-ki "I-love-you".

  • ご飯にする?お風呂にする?それとも ? (Do you want to have dinner first? Or do you want a bath first? Or do you want me?) Something like this? – nhahtdh Jun 30 '15 at 16:39
  • (I usually watch subtitled anime). When the character is speaking, in the subtitles the word will be broken by characters or syllables (for instance "L-o-v-e") and you can also audibly hear the breaks (not sure if it occurs in dubbed anime too). – user10499 Jun 30 '15 at 16:44
  • I've seen this occur in 5 out of the 50 shows I've watched. – user10499 Jun 30 '15 at 16:51
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    I know of one example in Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, and another one in Seitokai no Ichizon. It occurs in other anime, too, but I can't quite recall. Here is one real life example of the line above: youtube.com/watch?v=WRxG6gqqCoc Anyway, it's a way to stress on what they are saying, usually in a suggestive way. – nhahtdh Jun 30 '15 at 17:03
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    @nhahtdh ご飯にする?お風呂にする?それとも た・わ・し? (=束子【たわし】) – blutorange Jun 30 '15 at 20:30
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Japanese is not as tonal of a language as English with its rhythmic iambic pentameter (English is said to be "a stress-timed language") or Chinese (Japanese does have some tones, such as kami [paper] vs. kami [god] vs. kami [hair] or hashi [bridge] and hashi [chopsticks]). In English, emphasis is often accomplished by changing the tonal stress of the sentence. For example, "What are you [doing NOW]{LLLLLLHHH}?" or "[What are YOU doing now?!]{LLLLLLLLLHHHLLLLLLLLLLL}" or "[What ARE you doing now?!]{LLLLLHHHLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL}" or "[WHAT ]{HHHHL} are you doing now?!" Because Japanese does not default to this, enunciating syllables with pauses is an alternate way to create emphasis in a sentence.

4

I've heard it a few times myself and the subtitles do tend to either spell out the English letters or break up the syllables. While the characters of many languages (including Romance, Germanic, and Semitic languages) have names, the same is not true of Japanese, Chinese, or other Asiatic languages.

Characters will sometimes break up their speech in anime for the same reason that you have unnatural breaks in English movies. ("This. Is. Sparta!") I'm sure it can have violent overtones in Japanese just as it can have playful overtones in English. It all depends on the context and presentation.

0

I've pretty much only heard separation of syllables in those contexts when an anime character is being super flirty/seductive. It is most commonly used in this way with わたし and あたし, and sometimes with 大好き and 秘密. It has a pretty specific tone of voice when being used in this manner too.

Of course, separation of syllables can also be used to just "spell" words, although I feel that it would often come off as angry-sounding or insulting to the other person's intelligence if you do it just to add emphasis. A better way to express emphasis in a casual, friendly context would be to repeat the word you are emphasizing at the end of the sentence.

私だよ。私。
It's me.

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