Monday, December 12, 2016

Nandeyanen!? (Ethan)

While in Japan, I’ve learned many new things about the language.  I’ve learned a lot of new grammar, kanji (Chinese characters), and vocabulary.  Of all the things I’ve learned, one, which can’t be learned in a normal class, is Kansai-ben.  Kansai-ben, or Kansai dialect, is one of the many regional dialects in Japan.  Because I go to school in the Kansai region, this is the dialect I’m exposed to the most. 
Map of Japan showing all the regions.
I’ve learned Kansai-ben from many of my Japanese friends.  There’s never a particular type of situation in which they bring up Kansai-ben, they just always teach me a new one here and there.  We’re typically having a casual conversation and the person I’m talking to will use a word I don’t know and then explain to me that it’s Kansai-ben.  I often don’t have to ask about the word, as it’ll be explained to me before I ask.  On a few occasions, however, I’ve also had to ask about particular words and phrases.
 I find it interesting that all of my friends from the Kansai region seem happy to teach me Kansai-ben.  Friends from Osaka, Kyoto, Wakayama, and various other places in the area all use and teach me Kansai-ben.  Sometimes, though, I wonder how much particular words are actually used.  There are certain phrases I hear pretty frequently, but I don’t typically hear some words that I’ve been taught.  Regardless of use, people want to teach me Kansai-ben and I think it’s connected to a sense of pride in where people come from.  To some extent, I understand this, and I enjoy teaching people unique words from my region as well.  Recently, I even had a conversation with a friend in which we were exchanging special words from our regions.
Map of Kansai and all of the places it includes
I try to use a little bit of Kansai-ben here and there and I’ll try to throw in my most recently learned word to a conversation but it can be hard.  It feels a little awkward to use Japanese that I didn’t learn in class, but my friends seem to be encouraging and always happy to hear and use Kansai-ben.

*The title of this post is a popular Kansai-ben phrase and roughly means “What the heck!?”

Note: The map of Japan came from and the map of Kansai came from