Image license: ©


There must be a German word to precisely describe the sound of water sipping through the soil, reaching through the little paths and air gaps. It's a spongy sound, slurpy, quick, soft. This little curiosity had me Googling 'water onomatopoeias', which brought me to a joyous list of Japanese words used to describe water sounds - and these are some of my favourites:

  • こぽこぽ: water bubbling gently
  • ごーっ: a large amount of water echoing from a ways away
  • どぶどぶ: the sound of water or sake being poured
  • とぷんとぷん: water in a container swaying

I like these pairings and the subtle differences between pressure / force of the water. The difference is created by dakuten (the two dots, or ten-ten), and handakuten (the little circle, or maru), which make a sound 'impure'. So a sound can be softer (pure), noisier (handakuten) or louder (dakuten) - which is what delivers the onomatopoeic effect:

  • ぱしゃっ: water gently scattering vs. ばしゃっ: water forcefully scattering
  • ぱちゃっ: a small splash of water vs. ばちゃっ: a huge splash of water
  • ぽたぽた: a small amount of water dripping vs. ぼたぼた: fairly large water droplets falling continuously

And watering again, which sounds like all Earth is being fed, well-looked after.

Claude Monet

Water Lilies

1914 - 26, 1919

Oil on canvas, three panels

In collection(s): Hydrophonics


Audio license: CC-BY

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