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So, I've come across this sentence

そのとき、陽が当たった石版に何かの影がサッと横切った。

which I'm fairly sure it means something like

At that time, something's shadow quickly crossed the sunlit lithograph.

Now, what surprised me was the word サッと. I know that カタカナ is sometimes used to emphasise the word (much like an italic or bold font). What I didn't know is that there are words written in a mix of ひらがな and カタカナ.

A quick search revealed this answer. From what I could surmise, three groups of words were mentioned:

  1. When the final word is made of two other words (e.g. あんパン is made from joining あん and パン)

  2. Foreign words made into verbs (e.g. ググる from ググル, ダブる from ダブル), in which a final る is written in ひらがな

  3. The same concept as 2. but for adjectives (e.g. セクしい from セクシー)

Now, サッと doesn't match neither group. From the context of the sentence, I've connected it with 颯っと which is usually written in kana alone, according to Jisho.

In summary, why the mix of ひらがな and カタカナ in this case?

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    The katakana part is the onomatopoeic part and と is there for grammatical function. I mentioned this over on this question. Does this answer your question? – Earthliŋ Aug 4 at 21:32
  • @Earthliŋ Yes it does! It also raises another: being an onomatopeia, is there any way we should emphasise that in the translation? Also, if you'd kindly write an "official" answer (including this follow up question, if possible) so that I can accept it, I'd appreciate it ^^ – Jak Aug 4 at 22:47
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    Translation is an art that doesn't really have (or need) a rule like "emphasize onomatopoeias in such-and-such way". It's really all about context. That said, many English verbs (like gurgle, or scurry, or whiz) already have a onomatopoeic component, and choosing such words appropriately might already be enough to convey a similar feeling. – Earthliŋ Aug 5 at 2:45
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Onomatopoeic words can generally function adverbially with or without と. However, for onomatopoeias ending in 〜っ, と is usually added.

Onomatopoeias can be written either in hiragana or in katakana, but as is common for grammatical particles the と will usually be written in hiragana.

See also

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