20140218 PFOOMThe Japanese language is peppered with zippy onomatopoeia that allow you to express the sound of just about anything. Website Netallica recently surveyed readers to find the fastest-sounding words in the Japanese language. As you’d expect, WHIZZ, BANG and SHWOOP are nowhere to be seen!

We explore the top five fastest words, what exactly is so speedy about them, and what kind of images they conjure up for Japanese people.

1)  ビュン (BYUN!)
With a staggering 42.3 percent of the vote, it’s the sound of something that’s gone before you know it! “BYUN!” is the noise of a fast-moving object that’s hard to spot. Here’s what those surveyed had to say about it:

“BYUN!” is fast and powerful, like the sound of strong winds blowing.

It makes me think of something that moves in the blink of an eye!

20140218 Shinkansen_tokyo

▼ “BYUN-BYUN” is also the Japanese name given to this (presumably high-speed!) vegetable slicer.

20140218 0400-01

2)   シュッ (SHU-!)
Next up in second place, it’s “SHU-!” (pronounced a bit like a shortened “shoe”). This represents the sound of something zipping through the air! For those surveyed, once again there was only one comparison worth making:

“It’s the sound of the Shinkansen (bullet train)!”

3)  ゴー (GO~!)
“GO~!” is a very appropriate word for high-speed action! (Imagine you’re shouting “GOAL!”, but stop mid-word).

“It makes me think of a roaring jet plane engine, or a passing Shinkansen.”

“It’s like an accelerating engine.”

4)  キーン (KIIN!)
The Japanese language even has a word for the sound of something supersonic! Pronounced as in the first half of “keen bean”.

“‘KIIN!’ is like when a supersonic fighter jet is approaching!”

“It reminds me of Arale-chan (1980s anime character). When I was a kid I used to run around yelling KIIN! and pretending to be Arale-chan.”

5)  フッ   (FU-!)
This might look like something you’d say in English when you trap your finger in the car door, but “FU…!” is the sound of something suddenly disappearing – a little like the “pff” of a puff of smoke.

“I love ninjas, so I always want them to make this noise when they move around.”

So there you have it! The fastest-moving words in the Japanese language are the sound of bullet trains, anime characters, and a noise made by ninjas. Who’d have thought?!

Now, if you’ll excuse me. <fu-!>

Source: Netallica
Images: Wikimedia Commons (1, 2), Rakuten