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I have a question about Japanese onomatopoeia (擬態語). What is the difference between サクサク and パリパリ? Are there situations where using one instead of the other is incorrect? As I understand it, they both mean “crispy”.

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Just a quick search on cookpad,

The 1st page of パリパリ has "Salad with bean sprouts, white radish, cabbage, lettuce", "Rice crackers", "Pizza made of gyoza sheet", "Cheese crisps", etc.

I think the food texture is kind of crispy and hard. Its sound might be loud and high. So it can be audible to others when you eat it.

The 1st page of menu of サクサク has "Tempura", "Scone", "Sardine Cheese Puffs", "Chocolate Banana Muffin", "Butter cookies", etc.

I think the food texture is kind of crunchy, soft and mild. It does not sound so much that other people might not hear when you eat it.

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パリパリ expresses how a flat object would be bent and relatively easily break while keeping rigidity with collapse of texture, if you did.

サクサク expresses how texture would be easily penetrated or cut with crispy touch, and derivatively, how things go swiftly.

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パリパリ focuses on crunchiness, dryness or hardness of a food that is typically soft. It's used both positively and negatively. For example, deep-fried spaghetti and overcooked French fries are described as パリパリ.

On the other hand, サクサク is always positive and focuses mainly on "brittleness" of a food, like that of a biscuit. A food that is サクサク is moderately hard, but is easily and quickly broken in the mouth. Outside food contexts, サクサク usually refers to softness or smoothness (e.g., 仕事がサクサク終わった = I finished my job smoothly.)

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