And kanji with manga
Sunday, June 20, 2021

pon ポン

In Japanese, pon ポン has multiple meanings: it's an onomatopoeia for tapping, bopping or hitting a drum, it's a play in mahjong, and it's the morpheme honwith a handakuon 半濁音.

Onomatopoeia

When pon ポン is an onomatopoeia, it's for the sound of hitting a type of drum, and for lightly tapping or bopping something. For reference, some examples:

Shoulder Tap

The pon ポン onomatopoeia is used in shoulder taps in manga.

  • kata wo pon to tataku
    ポン叩く
    To tap the shoulder with a pon. (making a pon sound.)
おじさん いくら何でもひどいと思います ほんとに・・・・・・かける言葉もないわ・・・・・・ ポン フルフル
Manga: Hinamatsuri ヒナまつり (Chapter 9, 勘当ロックンロールフィーバー)
  • Context: Nitta Yoshifumi 新田義史 says what he did in a bar.
  • ojisan, ikura nandemo {hidoi} to omoimasu
    おじさん いくら何でもひどい思います
    [Mister], [no matter the circumstances] [I] think {[what you said] is horrible}.
    • ojisan
      おじさん
      Uncle.
      A way to refer to uncle-aged older men.
    • ikura nandemo
      いくら何でも
      No matter how much, no matter the circumstances, regardless of what happened, etc.
  • honto ni..... {kakeru} kotoba mo nai wa......
    ほんとに・・・・・・かける言葉もない・・・・・・
    Really...... [I] don't even have [what to say]......
    • honto - same as hontou 本当, with long vowel shortened
    • kotoba wo kakeru
      言葉かける
      To pour words [onto someone]. (literally.)
      To give someone words. To talk with someone.
  • pon
    ポン
    *tap*
  • furufuru
    フルフル
    *shaking [head disapprovingly sideways]*
    (mimetic word.)
ちょい待ったそのセリフって傍から見るとすっげぇ犯罪臭が・・・ ポンッ ・・・・・・
Manga: Grand Blue, ぐらんぶる (Chapter 2, 新歓コンパ)
  • Context: Kitahara Iori 北原伊織 is talking with someone that says something that could be misinterpreted badly.
  • choi matta
    ちょい待った
    Wait a bit.
  • sono serifu tte {hata kara miru} to suggee hanzai-shuu ga...
    そのセリフって傍から見るとすっげぇ犯罪臭・・・
    That line, if {seen by a third-person}, [it] [has] an incredibly criminal smell. (literally.)
    If someone hears that without context, they'll think it's a crime.
    (incomplete sentence, double subject construction with tte って topic marker.)
    • serifu 台詞 - a line, in the sense of dialogue, something that someone says, or said.
    • hata kara miru
      傍から見る
      To see from the sidelines, in the sense of how an onlooker interprets a situation they aren't involved in, without full context.
    • suggee - same as sugoi すごい, with changes in pronunciation.
    • X-shuu
      〇〇臭
      [To have] an X smell. To reek of X. To appear to be X, such that other people can tell it's X from how it looks like.
  • pon'
    ポン
    *tap*
  • ......
    • omawarisan
      お巡りさん
      Police offer. (the sort that patrols.)
    • junkai suru
      巡回する
      To go around [a place]. To patrol. To tour.

Fist Hitting Palm

The pon ポン onomatopoeia is also used in the fist hitting palm idea gesture.

  • te wo pon to tataku
    手をポンと叩く
    To hit [one's] hand with a pon.
ピコーン ポン ひらめき方が古いな・・・
Manga: Barakamon ばらかもん (Chapter 1, ばらかこどん)
  • Context: Kotoishi Naru 琴石なる has an idea.
  • pikoon
    ピコーン
    *light turning on*
    (mimetic word.)
  • pon
    ポン
    *for the fist hitting palm gesture*
  • hirameki-kata ga furui na...
    ひらめき方が古いな・・・
    [Your] way of [having ideas] is old, huh...
Character: Yusa 遊佐
Anime: Jashin-chan Dropkick, 邪神ちゃんドロップキック (Episode 10)
  • Context: Yusa says she tried to sell ice cream in hell, but for some reason it didn't sell well. She was told it was because hell was frozen over and nobody would buy ice cream in such cold weather, prompting her to gesture and say:
  • aa, naruhodo
    あー、なるほど
    Ah, [I see it now].

Other Tapping

ガツガツ ポンポン 良い子にしてろよ、ナポレオン ブヒ?
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 81)

In Mahjong

In mahjong, 麻雀, pon ポン is something a player can say when another player discards a tile.

In the game, a player has to form a pattern of, typically, four triplets or sequences, and one pair, either by simply discard tiles and picking tiles in their turn, or from calling tiles discarded by other players.

The pon is the call used when a discarded tile completes a triplet. For example, if you have 2 white tiles (white dragons) and another player discard a third white dragon, you can call pon on that tile.

The formed triplet is then moved to the side, visible for everyone to see, with one tile sideways indicating from which player the you took the third tile from.

By the way, there are only four tiles of each kind in total. The call to complete a quadruplet is kan カン.

It's also possible to call a tile to complete a sequence (e.g. 1, 2, 3), this is a chii チー, but you can only call chii on a tile discarded immediately before your turn, whereas pon and kan can be called on any discard tile.

hon

When hon 本 is suffixed to something, it sometimes turned into ~pon ~ぽん. This typically occurs with the counter for long cylindrical objects:

  • ippon
    一本いっぽん
    One long cylindrical object.
  • nihon
    二本にほん
    Two long cylindrical objects.
  • sanbon
    三本さんぼん
    Three long cylindrical objects.
    (~bon is rendaku 連濁.)

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