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|How many dialects are there in Japan?|
|Written by Administrator|
|Monday, 05 May 2008 06:44|
For such a small country. Japan has a lot of regional dialects. So, How many dialects are there in Japan? There are over 100 by my count. Here is quick guide to the regional dialects of Japan.
Here are some common words used in the Tohoku region.
be or -bē - as volitional suffix
Dialects of Tōhoku
Tsugaru-ben (Wastern of area Aomori)
Tsugaru-ben is spoken in Tsugaru district (western of Aomori prefecture). Tsugaru-ben is famously reputed to be too divergent from Standard Japanese for those who are not native speakers, to the point that even people living in the same prefecture may have trouble understanding it. In 1988, Tsugaru-ben fans proclaimed October 23 to be "Tsugaru-ben Day".
Kantō-ben has some common features to Tohoku dialect such as "-be" or "-nbe", East Kanto dialect is especially similar to Tohoku dialect. Tokyo and the suburbs' local dialects are steadily declining because Standard Japanese has spread in Kanto earlier than other districts.
Dialects of Kanto
Ibaraki dialect, Ibaraki-ben, is characterized by dakuten insertion, effecting a voiced syllable. For example, byōki, illness, becomes something like byōgi. Also characteristic of Ibaraki-ben in many areas is a decreased distinction between i and e sounds, so that iro enpitsu becomes ero inpitsu among many speakers. The final particles ppe, be, and he are perhaps most well-known. They derive from literary beshi (now beki in standard Japanese). The pitch accent of Ibaraki dialect is also fairly different from standard Japanese, typically rising at the end of statements and falling in questions. Below are a few words which are rather ubiquitous among speakers of the Ibaraki dialect:
The speech of modern Tokyo is often considered to equate standard Japanese (hyōjungo), though in fact Tokyo dialect differs from hyōjungo in a number of areas. Noticeable earmarks of Tokyo dialect include the frequent use of さ (sa, roughly analogous to "like" as used in American English slang), じゃん (jan, a contraction of じゃないか ja nai ka, "Isn't that right?", jan is originally Shizuoka and Kanagawa dialects' word) and つう (tsuu) in place of -と言う (— to iu, "to say —" or "is called —"). It is also not uncommon for Tokyo dialect to change the -いる (-iru) stem of the present progressive to -ん (-n), as in つってんのー (tsutten nō, "[someone] is saying") versus と言っているのよ (to itte iru no yo) of standard Japanese.
Edo-ben or Shitamachi-kotoba, the fast-fading dialect of old families from Eastern Tokyo called "Shitamachi" (This means "low-lying towns") , is another example of a Tokyo dialect that differs from standard Japanese. This dialect is primarily known for the inability to pronounce or distinguish some phonemes which are considered wholly distinct in all other Japanese dialects. Most famous is the decreased distinction between "hi" and "shi", so that "hidoi" (terrible) becomes "shidoi", and "shichi" (seven) becomes "hichi". Though it also includes a few distinctive words, today it is largely indistinguishable from the standard speech of Tokyo other than the phonemic difference.
Tokai-Tosan dialect is separated into three groups:
Dialects of Nagano, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka
Nagano-ben or Shinshū-ben
Dialects of Echigo
Echigo is in Niigata Prefecture except Sado Island.
Dialects of Gifu, and Aichi
Nagoya-ben is a dialect spoken in and around the city of Nagoya. It is similar to Kansai-ben in intonation, but to Tokyo-ben in accent. Instead of "shitte iru?" Nagoya residents will say "shittoru?" They attach unique suffixes to the end of sentences: "-gaya" when surprised, "-te" for emphasis, "-ni" to show off one's knowledge, and "-dekan" for disappointment. Some Nagoya words: "ketta" for "jitensha", "tsukue o tsuru" to 'move a desk', "dera-" or "dora-" for "sugoi" or "tottemo". A Tokyo resident: "Sou ni kimatteru janai" Nagoya resident: "Sou ni kimattoru gaya". "Gan" is not typical Nagoya-ben. It is rather slang used by the younger Nagoya residents.
Mikawa-ben is spoken in the east half of Aichi prefecture while Nagoya-ben is in the west half. The two dialects are very similar for people from other areas of Japan. But Mikawa and Nagoya people claim that the dialects are completely different. Mikawa people also claim that Mikawa-ben is the basis of Tokyo Japanese because it was made up in Edo period by Samurai from this area.
Hachijō-ben (Hachijō Island)
The dialects of western Japan have some common features that are markedly different from standard Japanese. Of course, not all dialects in western Japan use these features, but some extend from Kinki to Kyushu, sometimes even Okinawa. Some examples are おる (oru) instead of いる (iru), じゃ (ja) or や (ya) instead of だ (da), and the negative form ん (n) as in 行かん (ikan) (行かない (ikanai) in standard Japanese). These features are sometimes derived from Old Japanese.
Dialects of Hokuriku
Kaga-ben (Southern area of Ishikawa)
Toyama-ben is spoken in Toyama Prefecture. Instead of the standard, shitte imasuka? or colloquial shitte iru? for "Do you know?" Toyama-ben speakers will say, shittorukke? Other regional distinctions include words like kitokito for fresh and delicious.
Fukui-ben is the dialect of The northern part of Fukui Prefecture. Speakers of Fukui-ben tend to talk in an up-and-down, sing-songy manner. It is considered a relatively rural dialect, yet it is not without its own rough, home-spun elegance.
Kansai-ben (関西弁) is a dialect spoken in the Kansai region of Japan. Kansai-ben features a number of regional differences: to draw a broad generalization, Osaka-ben can be considered "brash", Kyoto-ben "lilting" and Kobe-ben "melodious".
Dialects of Kansai
Kyōto-ben or Kyō-kotoba
Ōsaka-ben belongs to the Kansai family of dialects. The terminology is confusing, as people often use Kansai-ben interchangeably with Ōsaka-ben. Even those in the know may confuse true Ōsaka-ben with Kansai-ben. Some examples include the usage of で (de) as a sentence final particle, and あかん (akan) which means だめ (dame) or いけない (ikenai) in standard Japanese.
Kyōto-ben or Kyō-kotoba is a soft and melodic Kansai variant. Traditional Kyoto dialect uses -taharu or -teharu (e.g. nani shitaharu no?) in its sentence endings, though -yasu and -dosu are also common. See Kansai-ben for more. To end a verb in -taharu is also often considered to be more formal and is almost exclusively used by women. Ending a verb in -taaru is said to have the same effect but usable by men, though it is not very common. The equivalent of standard Japanese's irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) is oideyasu (おいでやす) in Kyoto-ben.
Kōbe-ben is notable among Kansai dialects for conjugating the present progressive with the verb ending -ton or -tō. For example, while the phrase "What are you doing?" in standard (and casual) Japanese would be Nani shite iru? in Kōbe-ben it would be Nani shiton? or Nani shitō?. Like Ōsaka-ben, Kōbe-ben uses the inflectional ねん (nen) to add emphasis, such that 何言っているんだよ (Nani itteirundayo, "What (the heck) are you saying?") of standard Japanese could become 何ゆうとんねん (Nani yuuton'nen) in Kōbe-ben.
Dialects of Chugoku
Hiroshima-ben (Western area of Hiroshima)
Hiroshima-ben is regarded as a very manly sounding dialect. That is to say, tough and hard. Common variations include じゃ (ja) instead of だ (da), の (no) instead of ね (ne), and like Kyushu it uses けん (ken) instead of から (kara). Putting them together, じゃけんの (jakenno) is often applied to the end of sentences instead of だ (da) or です (desu), even though the meaning of じゃけん (jaken) is literally だから (dakara).
Yamaguchi-ben contains more yōons and diphthongs compared to other dialects in Japan. Above all, the consonant "ch" is frequently used. ちょる (choru) is often used instead of ている (te iru) in standard Japanese, and ちゃ (cha) is also used instead of the standard だ (da).
"Umpaku" means "Izumo (Eastern area of Shimane) and Hoki (Western area of Tottori)".
Dialects of Umpaku
Izumo-ben (East of Shimane)
Izumo-ben, unique from both southern Shimane's Iwami-ben and Tottori-ben to the east, is a very thick dialect that superficially resembles Tohoku dialects and is thus also called "Zuu zuu ben". The most representative expressions from Izumo-ben include だんだん (dan-dan) to mean thank you, ちょんぼし (chonboshi) in place of すこし (sukoshi) and 晩じまして (banjimashite) as a greeting used an hour before or after sunset. けん (ken) is used in place of から (kara), even by younger speakers. ごす (gosu) is used in place of くれる (kureru) and おる (oru) is used in non-humble speech as in much of western Japan.
Dialects of Shikoku
Tokushima-ben or Awa-ben
Iyo-ben is spoken in Ehime prefecture and is similar to Hiroshima-ben and other dialects in its use of けん (ken) for から (kara) ("because") and おる (oru) (and derivatives) for いる (iru). Some unique features of Iyo-ben include the use of が (ga) to replace the inquisitive か (ka), わい (wai) as a sentence-final particle similar to よ (yo), and more limited regional variations such as 〜てや (teya) for 〜だよ (dayo) (particular to Yawatahama). 何しよるが？ (nani shiyoru ga?) What are you doing? そうてや！ (sou te ya) Yeah, that's right!
"Honichi" means "Buzen (Eastern area of Fukuoka and Northern area of Oita), Bungo (Southern area of Oita) and Hyuga (Miyazaki)".
Dialects of Honichi
Miyazaki is most noted for its intonation, which is very different from that of standard Japanese. At times it can even seem to employ the opposite (inverse) pattern of intonation.
"Hichiku" means "Hizen (Saga and Nagasaki), Higo (Kumamoto), Chikuzen (Eastern area of Fukuoka) and Chikugo (Southern area of Fukuoka)"
Dialects of Hichiku
Hakata-ben (Fukuoka City)
Hakata-ben is the dialect of the Hakata of Fukuoka City. Throughout Japan, Hakata-ben is famous, amongst many other idiosyncrasies, for its use of -to? as a question, e.g., "What are you doing?", realized in Standard Japanese as nani o shite iru no?, is nanba shiyotto? or nan shitōtō in Hakata. Hakata-ben is also being welcomed more often in Fukuoka in areas like television interviews, where standard Japanese is typically expected.
Saga-ben has gained a certain amount of exposure recently, due to the movie "Gabai Bā-chan". The title itself is in Saga-ben.
Tsushima-ben (Kanji : 対馬方言 or 対馬弁) is a Kyūshū dialect spoken with in the Tsushima Sub-prefecture of Nagasaki Prefecture. Tsushima dialect is often unintelligible to speakers of standard Japanese, but can be understood by speakers of other Kyūshū dialects. Due to historical reasons and the geographical proximity of Korea, Tsushima-ben has borrowed many words from Korean.
"Satsugū" means "Satsuma (Western area of Kagoshima) and Osumi (Eastern area of Kagoshima)"
Dialects of Satsugu
Satsuma-ben, the dialect of Satsuma area of Kagoshima prefecture, is often called "unintelligible" because of distinct conjugations of words and significantly different vocabulary. As the farthest place from Kyoto, it is likely that divergences in dialect were accumulated in Satsuma making it sound relatively distinct. There are several different dialect regions within Kagoshima prefecture.
Ryūkyū a Seperate Language
Specialists agree that the speech of the Ryukyu Islands (the islands of Okinawa Prefecture and some of the islands of Kagoshima Prefecture) is not a dialect of the Japanese language; rather, it comprises a separate branch of the Japonic family. In this view, Japonic is split into two groups: Japanese, spoken throughout the Japanese islands, and Ryukyuan, found in the Ryukyu Islands, south of Kyūshū. Even so, there is great diversity within Japanese, and even greater within Ryukyuan, and many native speakers from one area of Japan can find the speech of another area virtually unintelligible. There has also developed in the Ryūkyūs a dialect called Okinawan Japanese which is close to Standard Japanese, but which is influenced by Ryukyuan languages. For example, "deeji" may be said sometimes instead of "taihen", or "haisai" instead of "konnichiwa".