Monday, October 25, 2010

My Rural Farmer Accent… Sort of.

At least thats what I feel like calling it. You see, throughout Japan different regions have different dialects of Japanese or different accents. Since Tokyo is the hub, it would be considered the most standard form of Japanese. Compare it to 'American Standard'. That accent is what most people speak in America. It's how most news casters speak. More or less, it's the standard. Japan is the same but also just like America, there are different accents and dialects throughout Japan.

It's a difficult concept to explain to anyone who doesn't speak Japanese so I will attempt my best. I will use one of the most well known dialects 'Osaka-ben' which comes from, Kansai region.

Essentially what occurs is parts of words or actually word uses are changed completely. To relate this anywhere to English a word like American English verse British English.

American British
French Fries Chips
Chips Crisps
Vest Waistcoat
Tank top Vest
Ice sickle Ice lolly

Or to compare it to something to American English, you can use Ebonics as an example. It's much more of dialect than anything else. Pronunciation and abbreviation of words is completely more common. This to me, seems to more closely resemble what happens in Japan.

So for example the word 'can' is 'deki' in Japanese. If you were to say 'can't', you would tag 'nai' at the end of it, creating 'dekinai'. In Osaka they use 'hen' instead. Your word would now be 'dekihen' or 'can't in Osaka-ben. This sounds simple but becomes problematic because 'hen' in normal Japanese generally means 'weird'. In Osaka, you would be ok to say that but if you said it outside of the Kansai region, you're saying 'can crazy' or maybe some other word. There are a lot of other words that modify or change words in Osaka ben but I won't get into it because I can hardly understand it.

Where the concept of regional dialects applies to me is where I live, Tochigi. And just like other areas of Japan, it also has a dialect known as 'Tochigi-ben'. A lot of Japanese see it as a dialect farmers use. Mainly because this is a farmer area. Though it's dying off a little, it's still used within Tochigi. I might unknowingly learn a word form a Japanese person in this region which is Tochigi-ben. With all honesty, I have learned just a little Tochigi-ben and have caught myself using it when trying to talk with my students. This might not seem overly interesting to someone who doesn't speak Japanese but try and imagine meeting a Japanese who speaks English with a Southern Drawl. That's more or less how I try and view it.

Wouldn't you love to hear and Asian speak like Shop Dog Sam?

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