Laughter in Comic Strips in Northeast Asia

Author Information

Yihui Xia,
Guangzhou College of Technology and Business, China

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.7-5
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


In the realm of comic books, laughter onomatopoeia (LO) plays a crucial role in character portrayal. The sound symbolism of LO can be used to assign distinct character roles and to suggest similarities in terms of appearance and personality traits. For instance, Kinsui (2014) posited that ‘hoho’ is typically associated with a young woman from a well-respected family. However, scholarship on the relationship between variable LO and character types is limited in the current literature, emphasizing the need for further study.

This thesis addresses this research gap by examining the association between phonological features and character types. Using the Japanese comic series ‘One Piece’ as a case study, the research collected laughter phrases and utilized a laughter notation system to assign character roles. The results suggest that characters employing LO with common phonological elements possess analogous external and personality characteristics, demonstrating the impact of sound symbolism on character attributes, with voiced sounds, p sounds, and palatalization sounds having distinctive correlations with specific character traits.

Keywords: Role Language, Japanese Onomatopoeia, Phonological features, Sound Symbolism, Personality characteristics


Kinsui, S. and Yamakido, H. (2015). Role Language and Character Language. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 5(2): 29-42.
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Xia, Y. (2021). A Contrastive Analysis of Onomatopoeia as Role Language in Japanese and Chinese: Focusing on the Laughter of Antagonist Character in Comics. Studies in Comparative Culture, 144: 25-35.
Xia, Y. (2019). Phonological Analysis of Onomatopoeia for Laughing in Japanese and Chinese. Japanese Language Education Methods, 26(1): 70-71

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