When we say "birds singing", there is a positive connotation.

When we say "birds crowing", there is a negative connotation.

"The birds are making some sound" seems to be objective, and thus neutral.

I was wondering is it true that 鳴く is absolutely neutral?

In other words, would the sentence 「小鳥が鳴いてる。」 have a positive connotation, negative connotation, or is it an absolutely neutral sentence?

  • I guess that's where adverbs come into play. i.e. うるさく鳴く、 優しく響く鳴き. I'm not sure if 鳴く has any inherent connotations.
    – Flaw
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 2:48
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    I don't really get much of a negative sense from "crowing". "Squawking", on the other hand . . .
    – rdb
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 3:14

1 Answer 1


I think it is neutral; it just implies the subject is a bird, an insect, or some other kind of animal. For positive connotation, there is a verb さえずる 'chirp'. For bad connotation, there is a verb (not limited to bird but can be used more generally) さわぐ 'make noise'.

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    鳴く doesn't seem to limit the set to just birds, but it's using the radical for bird which is "鳥". JMDICT also includes "to bark", "to purr", and "to make sound (animal)" for 鳴く's entry. Perhaps non-birds use 啼く instead? (This showed up alongside 鳴く in the same entry)
    – Flaw
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 2:53
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    @Flaw That is true. 鳴く can be used more widely. Probably same for 啼く as well. I will fix my answer. This site may be useful: dictionary.goo.ne.jp/leaf/thsrs/13500/m0u.
    – user458
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 3:00
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    But do they ever say 「鳥が歌っている」 for the figurative "birds singing"?
    – istrasci
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 17:08
  • @istrasci That is possible, but it is not a normal description. It is personification, or metaphoric expression.
    – user458
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 17:32
  • Hey guys thanks for the help =D btw if 鳴く can be used for everything, and 啼く can also be used for everything, what's the difference between them?
    – Pacerier
    Commented Sep 23, 2011 at 23:34

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