Monday, November 16, 2015

A New Language (Sasha)

On campus the main people who seem to speak in Akita-ben are the men who work at the front desk in Komachi (usually referred to as Komachi-ojisan), the ladies who work at the cafeteria, and the man who runs the nearby convenient store, and the students from Akita, and usually the people in the first two groups do not use it when talking to students. Sometimes it is possible to eavesdrop on a conversation in Akita-ben, but for the most part, it seems locals only use it when talking to other people in their in-group.
I sat down with my friend, Yoh-san, who comes from Akita to talk about the dialect, and he was happy to answer my questions about Akita-ben and even taught me a few phrases.
The word ke evidently has three different meanings in Akita-ben. The first for meaning is a phrase telling someone else to eat. (The general word for to eat is ku). The second meaning is itchy, and the third is a phrase to tell some to come here. The meaning changes depending on intonation, context, and accompanying hand gestures. He also taught me nda nda, a phrase used to agree with another person, and seba, an informal word for goodbye. I found the dialect to be very casual, and Yoh-san said that Akita-ben tends to ignore the rules of politeness levels and puts people on equal ground. Adding su at the end of a sentence makes it more polite, but Akita-ben is usually used when talking to people who are about the same level politeness level or lower.
Akita-ben also has a lot of voiced consonance, which means the hiragana characters that can have their sounds changed (by adding little tentens on the right side), generally do. For example, iku (いく), the word for to go, is changed to igu (いぐ). When I tried speaking Akita-ben, it felt very odd. I was using a part of my mouth I don’t usually use and having one voiced consonant after another was very challenging.

When I asked Yoh-san how the local people feet about their dialect, he instantly referenced his parents. His mother does not like Akita-ben and considers it dirty, and as a result, his family does not use Akita-ben at his house. Instead of learning it from his family, Yoh-san picked up Akita-ben from his friends and mainly uses it with them. He said that learning Akita-ben felt like learning a whole different language, which comparing it to the hyoujyungo (normal dialect), which comes from Tokyo, the two dialects sound completely different.

1 comment:

Ruobing Xu said...

It is interesting to hear that local young people use more dialect, in this case Akita-ben, than older generation. Why does his mother considers it dirty? Because of the pronunciation?