The way the people of the Kansai region of Japan speak. It could be compared to the Boston Accent of the United States. They have their own pronunciation, and own strange slang terms that are different, and almost unintelligable from the way other japanese is spoken.

Some japanese say that they speak in a very stern, and direct tone, and that it sounds menacing, and almost angry. They also have a few of their own strange words, such as the famous...
Okinee: Thanks, Arigato, Domo
Nan-day-ya-nen: Why!?, or Why the hell!?

This dialect is especially strong in cities such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Otsu.

There are great differences between, for example, Kansai Ben and Kanto Ben, all of which may be disappearing rapidly.

Here is a story about a friend of mine which might explain what I mean.

He was from Kanto area, in the eastern part of Japan, and was staying as a lodger with a family in Kyoto when he was a student.

Every day the lady of the house sent him off by saying, "Ohayo Okaeri yasu" (as is or was always the case with people in Kyoto). The literal meaning of this is "Come home early" or "We expect your early return home this evening." "Itterasshai" is used in standard Japanese.

He had never really noticed the expression itself, still less its literal meaning, as it was merely one of the daily greetings.

One evening he went to a drinking party and came back after midnight, which was quite late given the circumstances of the time. He felt quite guilty about this since he was afraid he had put the family to some trouble.

So, the next morning the hard-working boy was leaving for school as usual, despite returning home late the previous night.

As usual, the landlady said "Ohayo Okaeri yasu". Suddenly the boy noticed the phrase and his feelings of caused him to analyze the meaning of the greeting, which he had always heard since the beginning of his time in Kyoto but had not actually noticed.

So he wondered to himself: "Um. Did she say "Come back early" because I came home late last night?" "Is this the same greeting she's been using since I came here?" He was quite uncomfortable about this difference in dialects for some time.

It's not a great story, I know, but he laughs himself to tears when he tells it.

Anyway, that was long ago now.

I think that the various regional dialects are slowly vanishing and being replaced with the Japanese spoken on NHK television in most places.

I love - LOVE - the regional dialects of Japan. (Linguistically I'm sure Japanese is no more or less expressive than other languages , but) I find Japanese to be a very expressive language, and the regional dialects like Kansai-ben are even better.

Japanese people always think it's weird that I want to learn, say, Osaka dialect (a subset of Kansai), but its vitality and honesty are really attractive to me.

I've heard some Enka songs in Kansai dialect, but even those are rare.

Miraculously, I actually have a textbook on the subject - I think there's a phrasebook for foreigners that uses mostly romaji, but I managed to get an actual textbook for students of Japanese that grammatically dissects the Osaka dialect - and best of all, no romaji! I'd recommend this book only to third-year and higher students. It even has audio tapes, which you need, because the intonation of Osaka dialect is quite a bit different from the standard hyoujungo.

The textbook in question, in case you live near a Kinokuniya bookstore or something, is "Kiiteoboeru Kansai (Oosaka) Ben" ("Listen and Remember Kansai "Osaka" Dialect").

Kansai-ben actually seems to be regarded as somewhat humorous. Quite often in anime or dorama, comic relief or prankster characters are the ones talking Kansai dialect, even when the story plays in a time or setting (such as in outer space among aliens) where it doesn't make sense that somebody would be talking a Japanese regional accent.

The two most easy-to-spot differences between Kansai-ben and standard Japanese (i.e. Tokyo accent) is the use of Ookini instead of arigato to thank someone, and ahou instead of baka to call someone an idiot. Another sure way to spot Kansai-ben is that its speakers tend to slur "ja" (short form of dewa) into "ya" and use "-hen" instead of "-nai" as a negative suffix.

The Kansai dialect of Japanese (関西弁, Kansai-ben) is spoken in -- surprise, surprise -- the Kansai area of western Japan, especially the big cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe. The Kansai dialect is further broken down into a number of subdialects, the best known of which are the Osaka dialect (大阪弁, Ôsaka-ben) and so-called Kyoto language (京言葉, Kyô-kotoba). However, there are a large number of features common to (almost?) all area dialects, so that's what this node will concentrate on. Bear in mind that none of this means that Kansai people will only use the forms listed here: most are quite adept at speaking standard Japanese (標準語, hyôjungo), especially with big scary foreigners. But feed them enough sake and/or get them worked up over something, and they'll start to slip back soon enough...

Particles and conjugations

Standard     Kansai      Meaning
iru          oru         To be1 (kotchi kitoru, "Come here")
da, dewa2    ya          Copula (sugoi ya!, "Great!")
dewa nai2    yanen       Emphatic copula (ahoyanen!, "What an idiot!")
-su ka       -kka3       Polite question (môkarimakka?, "Making money?")
-su ne       -nna3       Polite answer (bochibochi denna, "I'm fine")
-nai         -hen        Negated form of verb (eg. wakarahen, "I don't understand")
1: In the rest of Japan, oru is a humble form used exclusively to refer to oneself, but in Kansai it can also be used (less politely) to refer to others.
2: In most other dialects, these become ja and jan(ai) in colloquial speech.
3: Used mostly in Osaka. Incidentally, these two example phrases are the canonical Osakan greeting and its reply, although I've never heard anybody use them unless teaching somebody Oosaka-ben...


Standard     Kansai      Meaning
arigato      ookini      Thank you
chigau       chau        "It differs"; No; You're wrong
dame         akan        No way; Don't do it; Impossible
omoshiroi    omoroi      Interesting
hontô-ni     homma-ni    Really
baka         aho         Idiot
The above is of course not an exhaustive listing, there are large regional variations and slang phrases go in and out of fashion rapidly.

ObGTKY: I'm not a native speaker of Japanese, and the Japanese I speak I've learned in Tokyo. However, one of my best friends is from Kobe and I'm currently dating a girl from Wakayama with the cutest gangster accent, so I have been exposed to more than my fair share of Kansai-ben...

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