Sound symbolic words and different kinds of "walking"

edited February 21 in Japanese
English has a variety of verbs expressing different modes of walking such as stroll, toddle, stagger, and lumber, just to name a few.

In contrast, Japanese does not have different verbs which express different kinds of walking. We really only have the verb 歩く aruku "walk".... that's all!

So how do we express different modes of walking in Japanese? We do this by adding adverbial expressions to the verb 歩く aruku; i.e. "adverb + aruku". A simple example would be ゆっくり歩く yukkuri aruku "walk slowly".

Interestingly, adverbial expressions you can use for different modes of walking in Japanese are often ideophones or sound symbolic words, which are supposed to "depict" states and manners.  

1. stroll
   ぶらぶら歩く bura-bura aruku
2. toddle 
   よちよち歩く yochi-yochi aruku
3. stagger  
   ふらふら歩く fura-fura aruku, よろよろ歩く yoro-yoro arku
4. lumber 
   どしどし歩く doshi-doshi aruku
5. plod 
   とぼとぼ歩く tobo-tobo aruku
6. trudge 
   えっちらおっちら歩く ecchira-occhira aruku
7. trot 
   とことこ歩く toko-toko aruku

So, the sound よちよち yochi-yochi is supposed to evoke an idea of "toddling", and the sound ぶらぶら bura-bura is supposed to evoke an idea of "strolling", and so on. You may or you may not share those impressions, but it is indeed interesting that many modes of walking in Japanese are expressed in "ideophones + aruku".


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