Japanese Dialects

Japanese Dialects

Kansai Ben

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)  


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
USAGE: Osaka

おとん oton - father
USAGE: Osaka

どない donai - How

ya - abrupt form of desu or the "to be" verb

Osaka-ben: Grammar 1- The Plain Form Copula 「や」

Osaka-ben: Grammar 1- The Plain Form Copula 「や」
By Beau

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」 .

Example Sentence

Standard Japanese 静かだ。
Osaka-ben 静かや。

It's really that simple. However, you should note that 「や」 can be used every time that 「だ」 is used in standard Japanese.


Standard Japanese Osaka-ben



(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).

Standard Japanese Osaka-ben





Take Care!
There is one exception to this rule: the 「のだ 」/ 「んだ」 structure.
In Osaka-ben, this structure becomes 「ねん」 .

Example Sentence
Standard Japanese: ちょっと寒いんだけど。。。 
Osaka-ben: ちょっと寒いねんけど。。。

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?

Why study Osaka-ben?
By Beau

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 popul