Thursday, August 28, 2008

JJNN Thursday: Culture - 06

Welcome again to JJNN for Thursday August 28th, 2008. Today we will be taking about dialects from around Japan.

Japan has a lot of different dialects. The dialects range from those are almost like normal Japanese (the Japanese spoken in Tokyo) and those that almost seem nothing like Japanese. I call the dialect from my city the "gaa" dialect. People just seem to sprinkle the word "gaa" randomly in their sentences. It can be interesting to listen to, but I don't think I will ever be able to speak fluently in it because it is just too random. Maybe there is just some grand "gaa" pattern that I am missing.

The most famous Japanese dialect is that dialect from around Kyoto and Osaka. Many people from even around here like use that dialect. Many comedians in Japan come from the area around Osaka, so people that can use that dialect are automatically funny in some way or another. The person in the clip below will teach you a little Osaka dialect. Notice how it is different from the normal Japanese.

Another of the the category of hard dialects to understand is Akita dialect. Akita is a prefecture in northern Japan. It is It is north of Niigata and located on the sea of Japan. I found a news story about Akita dialect. You can see the original story here.

It seems that the people of Akita prefecture wanted their new foreign teachers of language to learn about Akita dialect. Eight foreigners from 4 different countries were made to take a class to learn the dialect. All the students said they were so surprised that Akita spoke such a different from of Japanese. They said that it was almost like a different language. Others said that it felt like a warm dialect and they liked it.

I want to give you an example of what Akita dialect sounds like. Below is the opening of an anime called ndagarasha. The anime is based in Akita and is all in Akita dialect. There are two subtitles at the bottom. The top subtitle is what the music is saying (in Akita dialect) and the bottom subtitle is normal Japanese. I love the fact that they have to subtitle their anime so normal Japanese people can understand it. Any way, enjoy:

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 方言(ほうげん). It is pronounced hougen and means dialect. I think there must be more variety in the dialects of Japan compared to the dialects of America.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

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