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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kyoto Dialect

maiko-pontocho京都弁

As today is Gion Matsuri we thought we would focus this week's quick Japanese lesson on the Kyoto dialect or "Kyo-kotoba."

Admittedly not much use unless you are actually living in or passing through the ancient capital here are a few phrases of Kyotoben (Kyoto dialect).

The first thing you might hear is "oideyasu", which is "irasshaimase" (welcome!) in standard Japanese, used in shops and restaurants in Kyoto.

Goodnight becomes "oyasumiyasu" from standard Japanese "oyasuminasai" - the effect is said to be softer and more elegant-sounding --- a style of speech typical of the city's maiko and geisha.

Verb endings change so "desu" becomes "dosu" or even "osu" -- "gion wa atsu osu na" (Gion is hot, isn't it?)

In the negative, the "-nai" form becomes "hen" thus "ikanai" becomes "ikahen."

For a touch of Kyoto politeness the ending "-haru" is added to verbs such as "terebi wo miharu no" (Are you going to watch TV?), "nomi ni ikaharu ka" (Going for a drink?)

A few vocabulary items are different from standard Japanese: "chau" rather than the usual "chigau" (that's wrong/isn't right), "nanbo" instead of "ikura" (How much?) and of course, "ohkini" is used to replace "arigatou".

Last week's Japanese lesson

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