Itsumo niko-niko shite-ite, sugoku kawaii no.

(She’s always smiling and so very cute.)

Situation 1: Mrs. Shiba is talking to her husband.

妻: じゅんと保育園で一緒のるみちゃん、いつもニコニコしていて、すごくかわいいの。女の子がうらやましい。

夫: 男の子だってかわいいよ。確かに、ちょっと手はかかるけど。

Tsuma: Jun to hoikuen de issho no Rumi-chan, itsumo niko-niko shite-ite, sugoku kawaii no. Onna no ko ga urayamashii.

Otto: Otoko no ko datte kawaii yo. Tashika ni, chotto te wa kakaru kedo.

Wife: Rumi-chan, who is at the nursery with Jun, she’s always smiling and so very cute. I’m jealous (that her parents have) a girl.

Husband: Boys are cute, too. Sure enough, they’re a bit of a handful.

ニコニコする is an onomatopoeic verb that expresses a state of smiling, without laughing, and gives off a friendly vibe. Its adverbial form is ニコニコ(と), as in:


(She is always smiling.)

Similar sounding onomatopoeic expressions include ニッコリ(と), which describes cracking or flashing a smile, and ニヤニヤ, which describes a smirk.

Situation 2: Mr. Mita enters the office and talks to Ms. Gray.

三田: 今、大通りを歩いて来たら、女の子たちが遠くからぼくを見て、クスクス笑っているんだ。どうしてだろう?

グレイ: え?ああ、背中に「彼女募集中」って書いた紙が付いている。また、あの親戚のいたずらっ子にやられたのね。

Mita: Ima, ōdōri o aruite-kitara, onna no ko-tachi ga tōku kara boku o mite, kusu-kusu waratte-iru-n da. Dōshite darō?

Gurei: E? Ā, senaka ni “kanojo boshūchū”-tte kaita kami ga tsuite-iru. Mata, ano shinseki no itazura-kko ni yarareta no ne.

Mita: Just now, when I came walking down the main street, a group of girls were looking at me from afar and giggling. I wonder why?

Gray: Eh? Ah, there’s a paper on your back with “girlfriend wanted” written on it. That rapscallion who’s your relative did it [to you] again, right?

クスクス(と) is an adverb that expresses a way of laughing in which your voice is suppressed within your mouth, often with your face down. It can be translated as giggling or chuckling, and it can be accompanied by shrugging shoulders. The term ゲラゲラ, on the other hand, describes a roar of laughter. Unlike ニコニコ, both クスクス and ゲラゲラ don’t have a suru-verb form.

Bonus Dialogue: The three children of the Okubo family are chatting at home.

光男(みつお): 今日(きょう)、学校(がっこう)の帰(かえ)りに、すごくうるさい女(おんな)の中学生(ちゅうがくせい)のグループがいたな。ゲラゲラ笑い声(ごえ)を上(あ)げていて…。

たか子(こ): はい、はい、私(わたし)と千佳(ちか)と恵美(えみ)のことよね。

光男: ウィズ・コロナなんだから、小(ちい)さい声(こえ)で話(はな)さないと。マスクから、大(おお)きな口(くち)がはみ出(で)ていたぞ。

たか子: マスクをしていて、よく聞(き)こえないから、つい大きな声になっちゃうのよ。

光男: あれっ、まり子、何(なに)ニヤニヤしてこっちを見(み)ているんだ?

まり子: お兄(にい)ちゃんたち、お姉(ねえ)ちゃんのグループに会(あ)う前(まえ)に、途中(とちゅう)で知(し)らないおじさんに怒(おこ)られていたよね。「もっと小さい声で話せ」って。

光男: えっ、まり子、あれ見(み)ていたのか? まずい!

たか子: なーんだ、お兄ちゃんは自分(じぶん)が怒られた腹(はら)いせに、私に文句(もんく)を言(い)っているのね?

光男: い、いや…。とにかく、ウィズ・コロナの時代(じだい)だから、おたがい、いろいろ気(き)をつけようよ。

Mitsuo: Today, on the way home from school, there was a group of super noisy junior high school girls. They were letting out these big bursts of laughter.

Takako: Right, right, you’re talking about Chika, Emi and me.

Mitsuo: It’s the “with corona” (era), so you should speak in a quiet voice. Your big mouths were sticking out of your masks.

Takako: Wearing a mask, it’s hard to hear (each other), so (our) voices inevitably got louder.

Mitsuo: Hey, Mariko, what are you grinning and looking at me for?

Mariko: You guys [brother and friends], before you encountered Takako’s group, you were being scolded by an elderly man you didn’t know. (He was) telling you, “Speak with a quiet voice.”

Mitsuo: Eh, Mariko, you saw that? Aww, dang it!

Takako: Hey, (big) brother, so you were scolded, and (now) you’re retaliating by complaining about me?

Mitsuo: N-no…. Anyway, it’s the “with corona” era, so let’s just be careful with everything.

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