Today we will take a look at an interesting aspect of the Japanese language, dialects. For a very long time, people in Japan were very limited in movement. As a result individual areas developed distinct dialects. Today most prefectures have their own dialect. (Tokyo's dialect is considered standard Japanese) Today's focus is on the dialect of Osaka, Kyoto and the surrounding area.
MOOD SETTING: You are brushing up on your kansai ben with a nice obaasan outside an udon shop when suddenly a ninja jumps out and says, 'Goodo Morningu!'
NOTE: 'BEN' means dialect in Japanese. So the dialect of the Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto...) is 'KANSAI BEN.' Likewise the dialect of Fukui prefecture (my prefecture) is 'FUKUI BEN,' etc... For the kanji-lovers: This 'BEN' is [ 弁 ] - the same as in BENTOU (lunch box) and BENGOSHI (lawyer) - but not related to BENJO (toilet)
1. GREETINGS [ あいさつ ]
毎度おおきに maido ookini - Thank you (used instead of ARIGATOU)
毎度 maido = every time
This is often shortened to 'OOKINI'
USAGE: All over KANSAI area
儲かりまっか moukarimakka ? - How are you? [lit. "Are you bringing in a profit?"]
This comes from the word 'MOUKARU' [ 儲かる ] (to bring a profit)
The "standard" form would be "MOUKARIMASU KA?"
USAGE: mostly Osaka
ぼちぼちでんなぁ bochi bochi denna - I'm fine (lit. So-so, you know)
BOCHI BOCHI - so-so, little by little
DENNAa - a contraction of DESU NA/NE
USAGE: mostly Osaka
おいでやす oideyasu - Welcome (used instead of IRASHAIMASE)
This has a softer feel than the cattle-call, "IRASHAI!!!"
USAGE: only Kyoto (maybe)
2. FUN STUFF
さぶいぼ sabu ibo - goose bumps (when cold or scared)
'SABU' from 'SAMUI' (cold)
IBO means 'a wart'
あかん akan - instead of 'DAME' which means - no good, don't do that, bad, must not...
おもろい omoroi - fun, interesting
From 'OMOSHIROI (interesting)'
Stick a 'na' at the end for a more natural sound -- 'OMOROI NA!' (Man, that's cool!)
おかん okan - mother
おとん oton - father
どない donai - How
STANDARD JAPANESE: DOU
や ya - abrupt form of desu or the "to be" verb
STANDARD JAPANESE: DA
A noticeable difference between Osaka-ben and standard Japanese is the plain-form copula. While the standard plain form copula is 「だ」 , Osaka-ben uses its own copula, 「や」 .
It's really that simple. However, you should note that 「や」 can be used every time that 「だ」 is used in standard Japanese.
(For now feel free to use 「やった」 , however please keep in mind that later you will be taught another plain-past copula used with な adjectives and plain-past-negative verbs- this also applies to the below “tara” conditional, as it is essentially just a modification of plain-past form).
There is one exception to this rule: the 「のだ 」/ 「んだ」 structure.
In Osaka-ben, this structure becomes 「ねん」 .
Standard Japanese: ちょっと寒いんだけど。。。
Osaka ben uses standard Japanese sentence ending particles, such as 「ね」 and 「よ」 . However, it also has its own sentence ending particles. Most can be considered counterparts to the standard versions, however there are also some particles in Osaka-ben that are completely removed from standard Japanese. 「ねん」 , introduced above, is one such example of one of these “custom” particles. Although is has, for all intents and purposes, the same meaning as 「のだ」 , 「のだ」 is a grammatical structure whereas 「ねん」 is a sentence-ending particle. Also, the nuance conveyed by the 2 is slightly different. Osaka-ben's sentence particle endings will de discussed in depth in a future article- stay tuned!
Why study Osaka-ben?
First, let’s take a look at the Kansai region.
The Kansai region consists of seven prefectures, Nara, Wakayama, Mie, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo and Shiga. The major cities of Kansai are Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. With the mercantile spirit of Osaka, the rich history of the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, and the modern, international style of Kobe, Kansai abounds in history and culture. Kansai is also home to two of the most iconic castles in Japan, Osaka castle, the biggest castle in Japan, and Himeji Castle, a beautiful white castle, the best example of an original Japanese castle (many other castles were severely damaged during WW2, having to be rebuilt with concrete, while Himeji Castle remained largely unscathed and except for a few small areas, is still constructed from stone and wood).
With a population of 24,406,000 people, Kansai accounts for 19.1% of Japan’s total population, and produces 18.5% of Japan’s GDP. Kansai is one of the 2 major regions of Japan, the other being Kanto (The greater Tokyo-Yokohama area). Together, Kansai and Kanto lead Japan in terms of both economy and population. Kansai and Kanto are very often compared and contrasted with each other, and a friendly rivalry exists between the two regions.
And now Osaka…
Osaka could be dubbed the capital of Kansai, being the biggest prefecture in terms of both population and economy. Osaka has a population of 8,800,000 people, 7% of the total population of Japan and 36% of the total population of the Kansai Region. Osaka prefecture has one of the strongest economies in Japan. Osaka’s economy is so powerful that it could be compared to the national economies of Australia and Holland.
At last, let’s talk about Osaka-ben!
The group of related dialects spoken in Kansai is referred to as “Kansai-Ben”. While there are differences among the individual dialects of the area, it can generally be said that any two kansai dialects are closer than any one kansai dialect is to hyoujungo (standard Japanese). Osaka being the biggest city in Kansai, it is little surprise that Osaka-ben is the most widely spoken dialect in Kansai. Despite minor differences between dialects, a firm grasp of Osaka-ben