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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Osaka dialect


Q. "Mohkarimakka?"
A. "Akimahen"

This exchange in Japanese would confound anyone who had studied Japanese the formal way.

Japanese has a myriad of dialects that vary widely enough to sometimes make mutual understanding between Japanese speakers difficult.

ben is Japanese for "dialect," and besides the standard Tokyo-ben or Kanto-ben, perhaps the most famous dialect is Osaka-ben.

Osaka-ben is characterized mainly by radical abbreviation of sounds. The opening dialog's question "Mohkarimakka?" is, in standard Japanese, "Mohkete imasu ka"? or "Are you making money?" or "How's it going?", "How's business?". The reply "Akimahen," in standard Japanese, "Akimasen," means something like "Pretty lousy." or "Lousy as usual."

Here you can see another characteristic of the Osaka dialect: the replacement of the negative suffix "masen" with "mahen." This reflects the generally softer consonants of the Kansai region compared with the crisper and more clearly enunciated tones of Kanto.

More Osaka-ben coming in later Thursday posts.

Ittekima! ("Back soon!")

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1 comment:

  1. "Mohkarimakka?"
    I suppose it had been used until 30 years ago. (Sometimes I've heard the phrase in dramas of old days). I've not heard this phrase ever in daily conversation, though I live in Osaka for a long time.
    Ex-prime minister Aso made a speech last year at Namba. He used that phrase. It spoiled atmosphere. Then LDP has lost all seats of lower house in Osaka this year.



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