Dialects. That is the topic for today.
標準語 “hyojyungo” is standard Japanese, the language that pretty much everybody is able speak (in business situations/school). If you are learning Japanese from a textbook, you are learning standard Japanese. I speak standard Japanese. I do NOT speak a dialect.
So let’s look at the fun cards.
From left: Something to do with Tokyo, not quite sure what it is
Hokkaido dialect cards
Tohoku dialect (This is where I live)
I considered buying the Tohoku one, but decided against it. The reason? Tohoku dialect is actually MANY dialects. There is Fukushima dialect which is different from other parts of Tohoku. My husband’s family speaks Shonai dialect–they are from the small Shonai region on the west coast of Yamagata Prefecture.
Tohoku dialects are considered very difficult–like a foreign language to those outside the region. Tohoku dialect is sometimes called Zuzuben. According to tofugu
“A big reason Tohoku-ben speakers are so shy is the negative nickname “zuu zuu ben” I mentioned in the video. Tohoku-ben is sometimes called “zuu zuu ben” because speakers avoid opening their mouths too much when speaking and in effect causes their speech to sound very slurred and lazy, kind of like they were saying “zuu zuu muu nuuu buu” instead of words.”
However, I just asked my husband and he said that Zuzuben is actually the Yamagata dialect because people add “zu” to the ends of sentences. Whatever the reason, zuzuben is a common way of referring to Tohoku dialect and if you use this expression, Japanese people will be impressed. I am not sure it’s a nice way of referring to Tohoku dialect, though, so use caution.
Here is a site for learning about Kansai dialect, probably the most “known” of dialects. http://www.kansaiben.com/ Kansai ben is of no practical use to me, except maybe for understanding comedians on TV.
Do I bother with learning the local dialect? No way. Standard Japanese has MORE than enough for me to learn, thank you very much. Besides, I don’t come across it. (Except maybe when talking to an elderly person out on the street.) Even when I lived with Baba and Jiji, they switched to standard Japanese around me. It’s not that I’m against learning it, I guess, I just don’t really have the opportunity.
I did see after the earthquake: Ganbappe! which is Fukushima dialect for “Ganbatte” (Hang in there.”) So now, jokingly, I’ll say this to my son: Ganbappe! Ganbappe!
In the Shonai region, I will frequently say Moke da no (Thank you) and get smiles from shopkeepers. However, I must say it is disconcerting to arrive back in Fukushima and get blank looks when I say it! That is so weird to me. I’m still in Japan, and Fukushima is not that far from Shonai. However, their dialects are NOT the same. (Not surprisingly since a bunch of mountains lie between them.)
Do you use dialect? I’m in interested in knowing….whether or not you live in or out of Japan!
Here is the Frozen song in Fukushima dialect:
Yeah, right. I didn’t understand it, either.