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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

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My comment is actually a question: Of the dialects in Japanese, is it that they all use the same words, just in different ways? Or have different contractions? See, I am learning the standard, (or sometimes called the Polite) form of Japanese and fear that it may be useless if the dialects are far-stretched from the Standard... Basically, I want to know if it will be simple to learn the various dialects of Japanese if it was already easy for me to learn the Standard.

budmas's picture

I don't believe you would

I don't believe you would have any problem using the polite form anywhere where Japanese is spoken. The "official" Japanese language that is taught in school is generally from the Tokyo area and, someone correct me if I am wrong, is called Hyojungo. That is what is universally taught in schools and is what is used on television and such. But, every region does have their own dialects and slang, just like any other country. I grew up in Okinawa and they have their own dialect, also. The old Okinawan language is called Uchinaaguchi. It actually does have a couple of different consonant/vowel combinations, as opposed to the standard Japanese language, in addition to having different words for the same thing. Though, if you speak standard Japanese in Okinawa, you won't have any problem getting around or communicating with anyone.

I'm not sure where you would actually find a course on learning the different dialects of Japan. I believe it's something you would just pick up while living there. As far as slang goes, it's the same as anywhere else. You will hear it and in a couple years, it will change, so buying a book on slang would get you in the right direction, but don't take it as gospel. Hope that helps.



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