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The differences between Kansai dialect and standard Japanese language (intro)


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Hi, everyone. I believe that all of you are familiar with such a phenomenon as different dialects of Japanese language. So, today I want to give you some specifics about Kansai dialect, which, by the way, is quite popular in Japan. One more thing before starting, I want you to realize that this kind of Japanese is usually spoken in Kansai region (south of the country).

Many words in standard Japanese are contracted:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  Translation

よう [yoo]            よく [yoku]                  well

おもろい[omoroi]    おもしろい[omoshiroi]      interesting

ちゃう[chau]    違おう[chigau]            wrong

こら[kora]     これは[korewa]            this is

そら[sora]     それは[sorewa]          that is

But, there are words in Kansai dialect that have nothing in common with standard Japanese:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  TRANSLATION

ぬくい[nukui]   暖かい[atatakai]            warm

こそばい[kosobai] くすぐったい[kusuguttai]  ticklish

こける[kokeru]  転ぶ[korobu]                fall down

ほかす[hokasu]  捨てる[suteru]              throw away

"S" sound in standard Japanese is often replaced by "h" sound in Kansai:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  TRANSLATION

はん[han]     さん[san]       Mr., Ms., Mrs.

まへん[mahen]  ません[masen]            (negative suffix)

まひょう[mahyoo] ましょう[mashyoo]        ("let`s do" suffix)

です [desu] and its variations are replaced by や[ya]:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  TRANSLATION

や[ya]      だ[da]                        is

やろ[yaro]          だろう[daroo]                don`t you think?

やから[yakara]  だから[dakara]              therefore

Long vowels at the end of words are often shortened:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  TRANSLATION

行こ[iko]      行こう[ikoo]                  let`s go

しょ[sho]     しょう[shoo]                  let`s do

そや[soya]    そうだ[soo da]              yes

Short vowels at the end of words are sometimes lengthened:

KANSAI              STANDARD                  TRANSLATION

手え[tee]     手[te]                        hand

毛え[kee]            毛[ke]                        hair

蚊あ[kaa]            蚊[ka]                        mosquito

木い[kii]              木[ki]                        tree

血い[chii]     血[chi]                        blood

戸お[too]     戸[to]                        door

And in addition, Kansai-speakers often repeat the same word twice. It`s especially used when showing sympathy or relieving someone`s anxiety:

かまへん、かまへん [kamahen, kamahen] - I don`t mind at all.

ちゃう、ちゃう [chau,chau] - No, that`s not right.

Of course, there are a lot more language sapects in Kansai than I sowed you abowe. This topic is just intro to the whole Kansai dialect subject. If you find this material interesting, please feel free to ask me for more information about Kansai dialect. Good luck!

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Gosh this is really interesting. I've always been baffled by Kansai dialect -- I wonder why it's so different from standard Japanese?

Thank you for posting this introduction! This should make understanding people with this 'accent' a bit easier for me. Thanks again!

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Gosh this is really interesting. I've always been baffled by Kansai dialect -- I wonder why it's so different from standard Japanese?

Thank you for posting this introduction! This should make understanding people with this 'accent' a bit easier for me. Thanks again!

You are welcome! I will continue sharing information about Kansai in the next posts. So, please watch for updates. Regards!

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  • 2 years later...
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I vividly remember my friend from Kyoto who kept calling her mother "Okahan, Okahan!" :) I suppose the -san > -han and -masen>-mahen change is one of the stereotypical markers of Kansai speech.

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Mm the differences between Kansai ben and Kanto ben are somewhat subtle. Quite interesting. Also, the kansai region people are quite fascinating, they have their own identity traits compared to Kanto region japanese people.

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Thank you for the post! Very nice lists. I presently live in Japan, in the Kanto region where we speak the standard NHK Japanese. Whenever I meet someone from Kansai and ask them to see in their dialect, I get so confused. It sounds so foreign to me. And not just to me, but to other Japanese as well. 

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