The Kansai dialect (, Kansai-ben, also known as Kansai-h?gen (?)) is a group of Japanese dialects in the Kansai region (Kinki region) of Japan. In Japanese, Kansai-ben is the common name and it is called Kinki dialect (?, Kinki-h?gen) in technical terms. The dialects of Kyoto and Osaka are known as Kamigata dialect (?, Kamigata kotoba, or Kamigata-go ()), and were particularly referred to as such in the Edo period. The Kansai dialect is typified by the speech of Osaka, the major city of Kansai, which is referred to specifically as Osaka-ben. It is characterized as being both more melodic and harsher by speakers of the standard language.
Since Osaka is the largest city in the region and its speakers gained the most media exposure over the last century, non-Kansai-dialect speakers tend to associate the dialect of Osaka with the entire Kansai region. However, technically, Kansai dialect is not a single dialect but a group of related dialects in the region. Each major city and prefecture has a particular dialect, and residents take some pride in their particular dialectal variations.
The common Kansai dialect is spoken in Keihanshin (the metropolitan areas of the cities of Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe) and its surroundings, a radius of about 50 km (31 mi) around the Osaka-Kyoto area (see regional differences). In this article, it is mainly discussed about the Keihanshin version of Kansai dialect in Sh?wa period and Heisei period.
Dialects of other areas have different features, some archaic, from the common Kansai dialect. Tajima and Tango (except Maizuru) dialects in northwest Kansai are too different to be regarded as Kansai dialect and are thus usually included in the Ch?goku dialect. Dialects spoken in Southeastern Kii Peninsula including Totsukawa and Owase are also far different from other Kansai dialects, and considered a language island. The Shikoku dialect and the Hokuriku dialect share many similarities with the Kansai dialects, but are classified separately.
The Kansai dialect has over a thousand years of history. When Kinai cities such as Nara and Kyoto were Imperial capitals, the Kinai dialect, the ancestor of the Kansai dialect, was the de facto standard Japanese. It had an influence on all of the nation including the Edo dialect, the predecessor of modern Tokyo dialect. The literature style developed by the intelligentsia in Heian-ky? became the model of Classical Japanese language.
When the political and military center of Japan was moved to Edo under the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Kant? region grew in prominence, the Edo dialect took the place of the Kansai dialect. With the Meiji Restoration and the transfer of the imperial capital from Kyoto to Tokyo, the Kansai dialect became fixed in position as a provincial dialect. See also Early Modern Japanese.
As the Tokyo dialect was adopted with the advent of a national education/media standard in Japan, some features and intraregional differences of the Kansai dialect have diminished and changed. However, Kansai is the second most populated urban region in Japan after Kant?, with a population of about 20 million, so Kansai dialect is still the most widely spoken, known and influential non-standard Japanese dialect. The Kansai dialect's idioms are sometimes introduced into other dialects and even standard Japanese. Many Kansai people are attached to their own speech and have strong regional rivalry against Tokyo.
Since the Taish? period, the manzai form of Japanese comedy has been developed in Osaka, and a large number of Osaka-based comedians have appeared in Japanese media with Osaka dialect, such as Yoshimoto Kogyo. Because of such associations, Kansai speakers are often viewed as being more "funny" or "talkative" than typical speakers of other dialects. Tokyo people even occasionally imitate Kansai dialect to provoke laughter or inject humor.
In phonetic terms, Kansai dialect is characterized by strong vowels and contrasted with Tokyo dialect, characterized by its strong consonants, but the basis of the phonemes is similar. The specific phonetic differences between Kansai and Tokyo are as follows:
The pitch accent in Kansai dialect is very different from the standard Tokyo accent, so non-Kansai Japanese can recognize Kansai people easily from that alone. The Kansai pitch accent is called the Kyoto-Osaka type accent (, Keihan-shiki akusento) in technical terms. It is used in most of Kansai, Shikoku and parts of western Ch?bu region. The Tokyo accent distinguishes words only by downstep, but the Kansai accent distinguishes words also by initial tones, so Kansai dialect has more pitch patterns than standard Japanese. In the Tokyo accent, the pitch between first and second morae usually change, but in the Kansai accent, it does not always.
Below is a list of simplified Kansai accent patterns. H represents a high pitch and L represents a low pitch.
The Kansai accent includes local variations. The traditional pre-modern Kansai accent is kept in Shikoku and parts of the Kii Peninsula such as Tanabe city. Even between Kyoto and Osaka, only 30 minutes by train, a few of the pitch accents change between words. For example, T?ky? ikimashita ([I] went to Tokyo) is pronounced H-H-H-H H-H-H-L-L in Osaka, L-L-L-L H-H-L-L-L in Kyoto.
|konnichi wa||L-H-L-L-H||L-H-H-H-H||good afternoon|
Many words and grammar structures in Kansai dialect are contractions of their classical Japanese equivalents (it is unusual to contract words in such a way in standard Japanese). For example, chigau (to be different or wrong) becomes chau, yoku (well) becomes y?, and omoshiroi (interesting or funny) becomes omoroi. These contractions follow similar inflection rules as their standard forms so chau is politely said chaimasu in the same way as chigau is inflected to chigaimasu.
Kansai dialect also has two types of regular verb, godan verbs (-u verbs) and ichidan verbs (-ru verbs), and two irregular verbs, /kuru/ ("to come") and /suru/ ("to do"), but some conjugations are different from standard Japanese.
The geminated consonants found in godan verbs of standard Japanese verbal inflections are usually replaced with long vowels (often shortened in 3 morae verbs) in Kansai dialect (See also Onbin). Thus, for the verb /iu, ju:/ ("to say"), the past tense in standard Japanese /iQta/ or /juQta/ ("said") becomes /ju:ta/ in Kansai dialect. This particular verb is a dead giveaway of a native Kansai speaker, as most will unconsciously say /ju:te/ instead of /iQte/ or /juQte/ even if well-practiced at speaking in standard Japanese. Other examples of geminate replacement are /waraQta/ ("laughed") becoming /waro:ta/ or /warota/ and /moraQta/ ("received") becoming /moro:ta/, /morota/ or even /mo:ta/.
A compound verb ? /-te simau/ (to finish something or to do something in unintentional or unfortunate circumstances) is contracted to /-timau/ or /-tjau/ in colloquial Tokyo speech but to /-temau/ in Kansai speech. Thus, ? /sitimau/, or ? /sitjau/, becomes ? /sitemau/. Furthermore, as the verb /simau/ is affected by the same sound changes as in other godan verbs, the past tense of this form is rendered as ? /-temo:ta/ or /-temota/ rather than ? /-timaQta/ or ? /-tjaQta/: /wasuretimaQta/ or /wasuretjaQta/ ("I forgot [it]") in Tokyo is /wasuretemo:ta/ or /wasuretemota/ in Kansai.
The long vowel of the volitional form is often shortened; for example, /tukao:/ (the volitional form of tsukau) becomes /tukao/, ? /tabejo:/ (the volitional form of /taberu/) becomes /tabejo/. The irregular verb /suru/ has special volitinal form (?) /sjo(:)/ instead of /sijo:/. The volitinal form of another irregular verb /kuru/ is /kojo:/ as well as the standard Japanese, but when /kuru/ is used as a compound verb /te kuru/, ? /te kojo:/ is sometimes replaced with (?) /te ko(:)/ in Kansai.
The causative verb ending /-aseru/ is usually replaced with /-asu/ in Kansai dialect; for example, /saseru/ (causative form of /suru/) changes /sasu/, ? /iwaseru/ (causative form of /ju:/) changes /iwasu/. Its -te form /-asete/ and perfective form /-aseta/ change to /-asite/ and /-asita/; they also appear in transitive ichidan verbs such as /miseru/ ("to show"), e.g. /misite/ for /misete/.
The potential verb endings /-eru/ for godan and /-rareru/ for ichidan, recently often shortened /-reru/, are common between the standard Japanese and Kansai dialect. For making their negative forms, it is only to replace /-nai/ with ? /-N/ or /-heN/ (See Negative). However, mainly in Osaka, potential negative form of godan verbs /-enai/ is often replaced with /-areheN/ such as /ikareheN/ instead of ? /ikenai/ and ? /ikeheN/ "can't go". This is because /-eheN/ overlaps with Osakan negative conjugation. In western Japanese including Kansai dialect, a combination of /jo:/ and ? /-N/ negative form is used as a negative form of the personal impossibility such as /jo: iwaN/ "I can't say anything (in disgust or diffidence)".
In Standard Japanese, the verb iru is used for reference to the existence of an animate object, and iru is replaced with oru in humble language and some written language. In western Japanese, oru is used not only in humble language but also in all other situations instead of iru.
Kansai dialect belongs to western Japanese, but /iru/ and its variation, /iteru/ (mainly Osaka), are used in Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga and so on. People in these areas, especially Kyoto women, tend to consider /oru/ an outspoken or contempt word. They usually use it for mates, inferiors and animals; avoid using for elders (exception: respectful expression orareru and humble expression orimasu). In other areas such as Hyogo and Mie, /iru/ is hardly used and /oru/ does not have the negative usage. In parts of Wakayama, /iru/ is replaced with /aru/, which is used for inanimate objects in most other dialects.
The verb /oru/ is also used as an auxiliary verb and usually pronounced /-joru/ in that case. In Osaka, Kyoto, Shiga, northern Nara and parts of Mie, mainly in masculine speech, /-joru/ shows annoying or contempt feelings for a third party, usually milder than /-ja?aru/. In Hyogo, southern Nara and parts of Wakayama, /-joru/ is used for progressive aspect (See Aspect).
In informal speech, the negative verb ending, which is /-nai/ in standard Japanese, is expressed with ? /-N/ or /-heN/, as in /ikaN/ and ? /ikaheN/ "not going", which is ? /ikanai/ in standard Japanese. ? /-N/ is a transformation of the classical Japanese negative form ? /-nu/ and is also used for some idioms in standard Japanese. /-heN/ is the result of contraction and phonological change of /-wa seN/, the emphatic form of /-N/. /-jaheN/, a transitional form between /-wa seN/ and /-heN/, is sometimes still used for ichidan verbs. The godan verbs conjugation before -hen has two varieties: the more common conjugation is /-aheN/ like ? /ikaheN/, but -ehen like ? /ikeheN/ is also used in Osaka. When the vowel before /-heN/ is /-i/, /-heN/ often changes to /hiN/, especially in Kyoto. The past negative form is ? /-NkaQta/ and /-heNkaQta/, a mixture of ? /-N/ or /-heN/ and the standard past negative form ? /-nakaQta/. In traditional Kansai dialect, /-naNda/ and ? /-henaNda/ is used in the past negative form.
Generally speaking, /-heN/ is used in almost negative sentences and ? /-N/ is used in strong negative sentences and idiomatic expressions. For example, ? /-N toite/ or ? /-N toQte/ instead of standard /-nai de/ means "please do not to do"; /-N demo e:/ instead of standard /-nakutemo i:/ means "need not do";() /-N to (akaN)/ instead of standard ?(?) /-nakutja (ikenai)/ or /-neba (naranai)/ means "must do". The last expression can be replaced by ?()/-na (akaN)/ or ? /-N naraN/.
Kansai dialect has two imperative forms. One is the normal imperative form, inherited from Late Middle Japanese. The ? /-ro/ form for ichidan verbs in standard Japanese is much rarer and replaced by /-i/ or /-e/ in Kansai. The normal imperative form is often followed by ? /jo/ or ? /ja/. The other is a soft and somewhat feminine form which uses the adverbial (, ren'y?kei) ( /-masu/ stem), an abbreviation of adverbial (, ren'y?kei) + /nasai/. The end of the soft imperative form is often elongated and is generally followed by ? /ja/ or ? /na/. In Kyoto, women often add /-josi/ to the soft imperative form.
In the negative imperative mood, Kansai dialect also has the somewhat soft form which uses the ren'y?kei + ? /na/, an abbreviation of the ren'y?kei + ? /nasaruna/. ? /na/ sometimes changes to /naja/ or /naina/. This soft negative imperative form is the same as the soft imperative and ? /na/, Kansai speakers can recognize the difference by accent, but Tokyo speakers are sometimes confused by a command not to do something, which they interpret as an order to do it. Accent on the soft imperative form is flat, and the accent on the soft negative imperative form has a downstep before na.
The stem of adjective forms in Kansai dialect is generally the same as in standard Japanese, except for regional vocabulary differences. The same process that reduced the Classical Japanese terminal and attributive endings (? /-si/ and ? /-ki/, respectively) to /-i/ has reduced also the ren'y?kei ending ? /-ku/ to /-u/, yielding such forms as /hajo:/ (contraction of /hajau/) for /hajaku/ ("quickly"). Dropping the consonant from the final mora in all forms of adjective endings has been a frequent occurrence in Japanese over the centuries (and is the origin of such forms as /ari?ato:/ and /omedeto:/), but the Kant? speech preserved ? /-ku/ while reducing ? /-si/ and ? /-ki/ to /-i/, thus accounting for the discrepancy in the standard language. (See also Onbin)
The /-i/ ending can be dropped and the last vowel of the adjective's stem can be stretched out for a second mora, sometimes with a tonal change for emphasis. By this process, omoroi "interesting, funny" becomes omor? and atsui "hot" becomes ats? or atts?. This use of the adjective's stem, often as an exclamation, is seen in classical literature and many dialects of modern Japanese, but is more often used in modern Kansai dialect.
There is not a special conjugated form for presumptive of adjectives in Kansai dialect, it is just addition of /jaro/ to the plain form. For example, ? /jasukaro:/ (the presumptive form of /jasui/ "cheap") is hardly used and is usually replaced with the plain form + /jaro/ likes ? /jasui jaro/. Polite suffixes // /desu, dasu, dosu/ and /-masu/ are also added /jaro/ for presumptive form instead of ? /desjo:/ in standard Japanese. For example, /kjo: wa hare desjo:/ ("It may be fine weather today") is replaced with /kjo: wa hare desu jaro/ .
The standard Japanese copula da is replaced by the Kansai dialect copula ya. The inflected forms maintain this difference, resulting in yaro for dar? (presumptive), yatta for datta (past); dar? is often considered to be a masculine expression, but yaro is used by both men and women. The negative copula de wa nai or ja nai is replaced by ya nai or ya arahen/arehen in Kansai dialect. Ya originated from ja (a variation of dearu) in late Edo period and is still commonly used in other parts of western Japan like Hiroshima, and is also used stereotypically by old men in fiction.
Ya and ja are used only informally, analogically to the standard da, while the standard desu is by and large used for the polite (teineigo) copula. For polite speech, -masu, desu and gozaimasu are used in Kansai as well as in Tokyo, but traditional Kansai dialect has its own polite forms. Desu is replaced by dasu in Osaka and dosu in Kyoto. There is another unique polite form omasu and it is often replaced by osu in Kyoto. The usage of omasu/osu is same as gozaimasu, the polite form of the verb aru and also be used for polite form of adjectives, but it is more informal than gozaimasu. In Osaka, dasu and omasu are sometimes shortened to da and oma. Omasu and osu have their negative forms omahen and ohen.
|Osaka||ja||ya||dasu||de omasu||de gozaimasu|
When some sentence-final particles and a presumptive inflection yaro follow -su ending polite forms, su is often combined especially in Osaka. Today, this feature is usually considered to be dated or exaggerated Kansai dialect.
In common Kansai dialect, there are two forms for the continuous and progressive aspects -teru and -toru; the former is a shortened form of -te iru just as does standard Japanese, the latter is a shortened form of -te oru which is common to other western Japanese. The proper use between -teru and -toru is same as iru and oru.
In the expression to the condition of inanimate objects, -taru or -taaru form, a shortened form of -te aru. In standard Japanese, -te aru is only used with transitive verbs, but Kansai -taru or -taaru is also used with intransitive verbs. One should note that -te yaru, "to do for someone," is also contracted to -taru (-charu in Senshu and Wakayama), so as not to confuse the two.
Other Western Japanese as Ch?goku and Shikoku dialects has the discrimination of grammatical aspect, -yoru in progressive and -toru in perfect. In Kansai, some dialects of southern Hyogo and Kii Peninsula have these discrimination, too. In parts of Wakayama, -yoru and -toru are replaced with -yaru and -taaru/chaaru.
Historically, extensive use of keigo (honorific speech) was a feature of the Kansai dialect, especially in Ky?to, while the Kant? dialect, from which standard Japanese developed, formerly lacked it. Keigo in standard Japanese was originally borrowed from the medieval Kansai dialect. However, keigo is no longer considered a feature of the dialect since Standard Japanese now also has it. Even today, keigo is used more often in Kansai than in the other dialects except for the standard Japanese, to which people switch in formal situations.
In modern Kansai dialect, -haru (sometimes -yaharu except godan verbs, mainly Ky?to) is used for showing reasonable respect without formality especially in Ky?to. The conjugation before -haru has two varieties between Ky?to and ?saka (see the table below). In Southern Hy?go, including K?be, -te ya is used instead of -haru. In formal speech, -naharu and -haru connect with -masu and -te ya changes -te desu.
-Haru was originally a shortened form of -naharu, a transformation of -nasaru. -Naharu has been dying out due to the spread of -haru but its imperative form -nahare (mainly ?saka) or -nahai (mainly Ky?to, also -nai) and negative imperative form -nasan'na or -nahan'na has comparatively survived because -haru lacks an imperative form. In more honorific speech, o- yasu, a transformation of o- asobasu, is used especially in Ky?to and its original form is same to its imperative form, showing polite invitation or order. Oide yasu and okoshi yasu (more respectful), meaning "welcome", are the common phrases of sightseeing areas in Ky?to. -Te okun nahare (also -tokun nahare, -toku nahare) and -te okure yasu (also -tokure yasu, -tokuryasu) are used instead of -te kudasai in standard Japanese.
|o- yasu||otsukaiyasu||omiyasu||oiyasu||otabeyasu||oshiyasu||okoshiyasu, oideyasu||-toiyasu|
|-haru in Ky?to||tsukawaharu||miharu||iharu
iteharu (mainly ?saka)
|-haru in ?saka||tsukaiharu||-teharu|
|-te ya||tsuk?te ya||mite ya||otte ya||tabete ya||shite ya||kite ya||-totte ya|
There is some difference in the particles between Kansai dialect and standard Japanese. In colloquial Kansai dialect, case markers (, kaku-joshi) are often left out especially the accusative case o and the quotation particles to and te (equivalent to tte in standard). The ellipsis of to and te happens only before two verbs: y? (to say) and omou (to think). For example, Tanaka-san to y? hito ("a man called Mr. Tanaka") can change to Tanaka-san y? hito. And to y? is sometimes contracted to ch? or tch? instead of te, ts? or tts? in Tokyo. For example, nanto y? koto da! or nante kotta! ("My goodness!") becomes nanch? kotcha! in Kansai.
The interjectory particle (?, kant?-joshi) na or naa is used very often in Kansai dialect instead of ne or nee in standard Japanese. In standard Japanese, naa is considered rough masculine style in some context, but in Kansai dialect naa is used by both men and women in many familiar situations. It is not only used as interjectory particle (as emphasis for the imperative form, expression an admiration, and address to listeners, for example), and the meaning varies depending on context and voice intonation, so much so that naa is called the world's third most difficult word to translate. Besides naa and nee, noo is also used in some areas, but noo is usually considered too harsh a masculine particle in modern Keihanshin.
Kara and node, the conjunctive particles (?, setsuzoku-joshi) meaning "because," are replaced by sakai or yotte; ni is sometimes added to the end of both, and sakai changes to sake in some areas. Sakai was so famous as the characteristic particle of Kansai dialect that a special saying was made out of it: "Sakai in Osaka and Berab? in Edo" (, ?saka sakai ni Edo berab?)". However, in recent years, the standard kara and node have become dominant.
Kate or katte is also characteristic particle of Kansai dialect, transformation of ka tote. Kate has two usages. When kate is used with conjugative words, mainly in the past form and the negative form, it is the equivalent of the English "even if" or "even though", such as Kaze hiita kate, watashi wa ryok? e iku ("Even if [I] catch a cold, I will go on the trip"). When kate is used with nouns, it means something like "even", "too," or "either", such as Ore kate shiran ("I don't know, either"), and is similar to the particle mo and datte.
The sentence-final particles (, sh?-joshi) used in Kansai differ widely from those used in Tokyo. The most prominent to Tokyo speakers is the heavy use of wa by men. In standard Japanese, it is used exclusively by women and so is said to sound softer. In western Japanese including Kansai dialect, however, it is used equally by both men and women in many different levels of conversation. It is noted that the feminine usage of wa in Tokyo is pronounced with a rising intonation and the Kansai usage of wa is pronounced with a falling intonation.
Another difference in sentence final particles that strikes the ear of the Tokyo speaker is the nen particle such as nande ya nen!, "you gotta be kidding!" or "why/what the hell?!", a stereotype tsukkomi phrase in the manzai. It comes from no ya (particle no + copula ya, also n ya) and much the same as the standard Japanese no da (also n da). Nen has some variation, such as neya (intermediate form between no ya and nen), ne (shortened form), and nya (softer form of neya). When a copula precedes these particles, da + no da changes to na no da (na n da) and ya + no ya changes to na no ya (na n ya), but ya + nen does not change to na nen. No da is never used with polite form, but no ya and nen can be used with formal form such as nande desu nen, a formal form of nande ya nen. In past tense, nen changes to -ten; for example, "I love you" would be suki ya nen or sukkya nen, and "I loved you" would be suki yatten.
In the interrogative sentence, the use of nen and no ya is restricted to emphatic questions and involves interrogative words. For simple questions, (no) ka is usually used and ka is often omitted as well as standard Japanese, but no is often changed n or non (somewhat feminine) in Kansai dialect. In standard Japanese, kai is generally used as a masculine variation of ka, but in Kansai dialect, kai is used as an emotional question and is mainly used for rhetorical question rather than simple question and is often used in the forms as kaina (softer) and kaiya (harsher). When kai follows the negative verb ending -n, it means strong imperative sentence. In some areas such as Kawachi and Banshu, ke is used instead of ka, but it is considered a harsh masculine particle in common Kansai dialect.
The emphatic particle ze, heard often from Tokyo men, is rarely heard in Kansai. Instead, the particle de is used, arising from the replacement of z with d in words. However, despite the similarity with ze, the Kansai de does not carry nearly as heavy or rude a connotation, as it is influenced by the lesser stress on formality and distance in Kansai. In Kyoto, especially feminine speech, de is sometimes replaced with e. The particle zo is also replaced to do by some Kansai speakers, but do carries a rude masculine impression unlike de.
The emphasis or tag question particle jan ka in the casual speech of Kanto changes to yan ka in Kansai. Yan ka has some variations, such as a masculine variation yan ke (in some areas, but yan ke is also used by women) and a shortened variation yan, just like jan in Kanto. Jan ka and jan are used only in informal speech, but yan ka and yan can be used with formal forms like sugoi desu yan! ("It is great!"). Youngsters often use yan naa, the combination of yan and naa for tag question.
In some cases, Kansai dialect uses entirely different words. The verb hokasu corresponds to standard Japanese suteru "to throw away", and metcha corresponds to the standard Japanese slang ch? "very". Ch?, in Kansai dialect, means "a little" and is a contracted form of chotto. Thus the phrase ch? matte "wait a minute" by a Kansai person sounds strange to a Tokyo person.
Some Japanese words gain entirely different meanings or are used in different ways when used in Kansai dialect. One such usage is of the word naosu (usually used to mean "correct" or "repair" in the standard language) in the sense of "put away" or "put back." For example, kono jitensha naoshite means "please put back this bicycle" in Kansai, but many standard speakers are bewildered since in standard Japanese it would mean "please repair this bicycle".
Another widely recognized Kansai-specific usage is of aho. Basically equivalent to the standard baka "idiot, fool", aho is both a term of reproach and a term of endearment to the Kansai speaker, somewhat like English twit or silly. Baka, which is used as "idiot" in most regions, becomes "complete moron" and a stronger insult than aho. Where a Tokyo citizen would almost certainly object to being called baka, being called aho by a Kansai person is not necessarily much of an insult. Being called baka by a Kansai speaker is however a much more severe criticism than it would be by a Tokyo speaker. Most Kansai speakers cannot stand being called baka but don't mind being called aho.
Here are some words and phrases famous as part of the Kansai dialect:
|Kansai dialect||accent||Standard Japanese||English||Note||Example|
|akan or akahen||H-H-H, H-L-L-L||dame, ikemasen, shimatta||wrong, no good, must, oh no!||abbreviation of "rachi ga akanu"; akimasen or akimahen (H-H-H-H-H) for polite speech; -ta(ra) akan means "must not ..."; -na akan and -nto akan means "must ...".||Tabetara akan. = "You must not eat." : Tabena/Tabento akan = "You must eat."|
|aho, ah?||L-HL, L-H-L||baka||silly, idiot, fool||sometimes used friendly with a joke; this accompanies a stereotype that baka is considered a much more serious insult in Kansai; Ahondara (L-L-L-H-L) is strong abusive form; Ahokusai (L-L-H-L-L) and Ahorashii(L-L-H-L-L) are adjective form; originally ahau and said to derive from a Chinese word ; Muromachi period.in||Honma aho ya naa. = "You are really silly."|
|beppin||H-H-H||bijin||beautiful woman||Originally written , meaning a product of exceptional quality; extrapolated to apply to women of exceptional beauty, rewritten as . Often appended with -san.||Beppin-san ya na. = "You are a pretty woman."|
|charinko, chari||jitensha||bicycle||said to derive either from onomatopoeia of the bell, or corrupted from jajeongeo, a Korean word for "bicycle" used by Osaka-born Koreans. Has spread out to most of Japan in recent decades.||Eki made aruite ikun? Uun, chari de iku wa. ("Are you walking to the station?" "No, I'm going by bike.")|
|chau||H-H||chigau, de wa nai, janai||that isn't it, that isn't good, nope, wrong||reduplication chau chau is often used for informal negative phrase||Are, chauchau chau? Chau chau, chauchau chau n chau? = "It is a Chow Chow, isn't it?" "No, it isn't a Chow Chow, is it?" (a famous pun with Kansai dialect)|
|dabo||L-HL||baka||silly, idiot, fool||used in Kobe and Banshu; harsher than aho|
|donai||H-H-H||donna, d?||how (demonstrative)||konai means konna (such, like this); sonai means sonna (such, like it); anai means anna (such, like that)||Donai yatta? = "How was it?"|
|do||excessively (prefix)||often used with bad meanings; also used in several dialects and recently standard Japanese||do-aho = "terribly fool" do-kechi = "terribly miser"|
|dotsuku||H-H-H||naguru||to clobber somebody||do + tsuku (; prick, push); also dozuku||Anta, dotsuku de! = "Hey, I'll clobber you!"|
|donkusai||L-L-H-L-L||manuke, nibui||stupid, clumsy, inefficient, lazy||literally "slow-smelling" (?)|
|ee||L-H||yoi, ii||good, proper, all right||used only in Plain form; other conjugations are same as yoi (Perfective form yokatta generally does not change ekatta); also used in other western Japan and Tohoku||Kakko ee de. = "You look cool."|
|egetsunai||H-H-H-L-L||akudoi, iyarashii, rokotsu-na||indecent, vicious, obnoxious||Egetsunai yarikata = "Indecent way"|
|erai||H-L-L||erai, taihen||great, high-status, terrible, terribly||the usage as meaning "terrible" and "terribly" is more often in Kansai than in Tokyo; also sometimes used as meaning "tired" as shindoi in Chubu and western Japan||Erai kotcha! (< erai koto ja) = "It is a terrible/difficult thing/matter!"|
|gotsui||H-L-L||ikatsui, sugoi||rough, huge||a variation of the adjective form gottsu is used as "very" or "terribly" like metcha||Gottsu ee kanji = "feelin' real good"|
|gy?san||H-L-L-L or L-L-H-L||takusan||a lot of, many||also y?san, may be a mixture of gy?san and y?ke; also used in other western Japan; ?? in kanji||Gy?san tabe ya. = "Eat heartily."|
|hannari||H-L-L-L or L-L-H-L||hanayaka, j?hin||elegant, splendid, graceful||mainly used in Kyoto||Hannari-shita kimono = "Elegant kimono"|
|hiku||H-H||shiku||to spread on a flat surface (e.g. bedding, butter)||A result of the palatalization of "s" occurring elsewhere in the dialect.||Futon hiitoite ya. = "Lay out the futons, will you?"|
|hokasu||H-H-H||suteru||to throw away, to dump||also horu (H-H). Note particularly that the phrase "gomi (o) hottoite" means "throw out the garbage" in Kansai dialect, but "let the garbage be" in standard Japanese.||Sore hokashitoite. = "Dump it."|
|honde||H-H-H||sorede||and so, so that (conjunction)||Honde na, kin? na, watashi na... = "And, in yesterday, I..."|
|honnara, hona||H-H-L-L, H-L||(sore)dewa, (sore)ja, (sore)nara||then, in that case, if that's true (conjunction)||often used for informal good-by.||Hona mata. = "Well then."|
|honma||L-L-H, H-H-H||hont?||true, real||honma-mon, equivalent to Standard honmono, means "genuine thing"; also used in other western Japan; ?? in kanji||Sore honma? = "Is that true?"|
|ikezu||L-H-L||ijiwaru||spiteful, ill-natured||Ikezu sentoitee na. = "Don't be spiteful to me."|
|itemau, itekomasu||H-H-H-H, H-H-H-H-H||yattsukeru, yatchimau||to beat, to finish off||Itemau do, ware! = "I'll finish you off!" (typical fighting words)|
|kamahen or kamehen||H-L-L-L||kamawanai||never mind; it doesn't matter||abbreviation of "kamawahen"||Kamahen, kamahen. = "It doesn't matter: it's OK."|
|kanawan||H-H-L-L||iya da, tamaranai||can't stand it; unpleasant; unwelcome||also kanan (H-L-L)||K? atsui to kanawan naa. = "I can't stand this hot weather."|
|kashiwa||L-H-L||toriniku||chicken (food)||compared the colour of plumage of chickens to the colour of leaves of the kashiwa; also used in other western Japan and Nagoya||Kashiwa hito-kire ch?dai. = "Give me a cut of chicken."|
|kattaa shatsu, katt?||H-H-H L-L, H-L-L||wai shatsu ("Y-shirt")||dress shirt||wasei-eigo. originally a brand of Mizuno, a sportswear company in Osaka. kattaa is a pun of "cutter" and "katta" (won, beat, overcame).|
|kettai-na||H-L-L-L||kimy?-na, hen-na, okashi-na, fushigi-na||strange||Kettai-na fuku ya na. = "They are strange clothes."|
|kettakuso warui||H-H-H-H H-L-L||imaimashii, haradatashii||damned, stupid, irritating||kettai + kuso "shit" + warui "bad"|
|kii warui||H-H H-L-L||kanji ga warui, iyana kanji||be not in a good feeling||kii is a lengthened vowel form of ki (?).|
|kosobai or koshobai||H-H-L-L||kusuguttai||ticklish||shortened form of kosobayui; also used in other western Japan|
|maido||L-H-L||d?mo||commercial greeting||the original meaning is "Thank you always". ?? in kanji.||Maido, irasshai! = "Hi, may I help you?"|
|makudo||L-H-L||makku||McDonald's||abbreviation of makudonarudo (Japanese pronunciation of "McDonald's")||Makudo iko. = "Let's go to McDonald's."|
|mebachiko||L-H-L-L||monomorai||stye||meibo (H-L-L) in Kyoto and Shiga.|
|metcha or messa or mutcha||L-H||totemo, ch?||very||mostly used by younger people. also bari (L-H) in southern Hyogo, adopted from Chugoku dialect.||Metcha omoroi mise shitteru de. = "I know a really interesting shop."|
|nanbo||L-L-H||ikura, ikutsu||how much, no matter how, how old, how many||transformation of nanihodo (??); also used in other western Japan, Tohoku and Hokkaido.||Sore nanbo de k?ta n? = "How much did you pay for it?"|
|nukui||H-L-L||atatakai, attakai||warm||also used in other western Japan|
|ochokuru||H-H-H-H||karakau, chakasu||to make fun of, to tease||Ore ochokuru no mo eekagen ni see! = "That's enough to tease me!"|
|okan, oton||L-H-L, L-H-L||okaasan, ot?san||mother, father||very casual form|
|?kini||H-L-H-L or L-L-H-L||arigat?||thanks||abbreviation of "?ki ni arigat?" (thank you very much, ?ki ni means "very much"); of course, arigat? is also used; sometimes, it is used ironically to mean "No thank you"; also ?keni||Maido ?kini! = "Thanks always!"|
|otchan||H-H-H||ojisan||uncle, older man||a familiar term of address for a middle-aged man; also used as a first personal pronoun; the antonym "aunt, older woman" is obachan (also used in standard Japanese); also ossan and obahan, but ruder than otchan and obachan||Otchan, takoyaki futatsu! Aiyo! = (conversation with a takoyaki stall man) "Two takoyaki please, mister!" "All right!"|
|shaanai||H-H-L-L||sh?ganai, shikata ga nai||it can't be helped||also used some other dialects|
|shibaku||H-H-H||naguru, tataku||to beat somebody (with hands or rods)||sometimes used as a vulgar word meaning "to go" or "to eat" such as Chaa shibakehen? "Why don't you go to cafe?"||Shibaitaro ka! ( < shibaite yar? ka) = "Do you want me to give you a beating?"|
|shindoi||L-L-H-L||tsukareru, tsurai, kurushii||tired, exhausted||change from shinr? (; hardship); shindoi has come to be used throughout Japan in recent years.||Aa shindo. = "Ah, I'm tired."|
|sh?monai||L-L-H-L-L||tsumaranai, omoshirokunai, kudaranai||dull, unimportant, uninteresting||change from shiy? mo nai (, means "There isn't anything"); also used some other dialects|
|sunmasen or sunmahen||L-L-L-L-H||sumimasen, gomen nasai||I'm sorry, excuse me, thanks||suman (H-L-L) in casual speech; also kan'nin (??, L-L-H-L) for informal apology instead of standard kanben ()||Erai sunmahen. = "I'm so sorry."|
|taku||H-H||niru||to boil, to simmer||in standard Japanese, taku is used only for cooking rice; also used in other western Japan||Daikon y? taketa. = "The daikon was boiled well."|
|waya||H-L||mucha-kucha, dainashi, dame||going for nothing, fruitless||also used in other western Japan, Nagoya and Hokkaido||Sappari waya ya wa. = "It's no good at all."|
|yaru||H-H||yaru, ageru||to give (informal)||used more widely than in standard Japanese towards equals as well as inferiors; when used as helper auxiliaries, -te yaru usually shortened -taru|
|yome||H-H||tsuma, okusan, kamisan, kanai||wife||originally means "bride" and "daughter-in-law" in standard, but an additional meaning "wife" is spread from Kansai; often used as yome-san or yome-han||anta toko no yome-han = "your wife"|
|y?ke||H-L-L||takusan||a lot of, many||change from yokei (, means "extra, too many"); a synonymous with gy?san|
Standard first-person pronouns such as watashi, boku and ore are also generally used in Kansai, but there are some local pronoun words. Watashi has many variations: watai, wate (both gender), ate (somewhat feminine), and wai (masculine, casual). These variations are now archaic, but are still widely used in fictitious creations to represent stereotypical Kansai speakers especially wate and wai. Elderly Kansai men frequent use washi as well as other western Japan. Uchi is famous for the typical feminine first-person pronoun of Kansai dialect and it is still popular among Kansai girls.
In Kansai, omae and anta are often used for the informal second-person pronoun. Anata is hardly used. Traditional local second-person pronouns include omahan (omae + -han), anta-han and ansan (both are anta + -san, but anta-han is more polite). An archaic first-person pronoun, ware, is used as a hostile and impolite second-person pronoun in Kansai. Jibun () is a Japanese word meaning "oneself" and sometimes "I," but it has an additional usage in Kansai as a casual second-person pronoun.
In traditional Kansai dialect, the honorific suffix -san is sometimes pronounced -han when -san follows a, e and o; for example, okaasan ("mother") becomes okaahan, and Sat?-san ("Mr. Sat?") becomes Sat?-han. It is also the characteristic of Kansai usage of honorific suffixes that they can be used for some familiar inanimate objects as well, especially in Kyoto. In standard Japanese, the usage is usually considered childish, but in Kansai, o-imo-san, o-mame-san and ame-chan are often heard not only in children's speech but also in adults' speech. The suffix -san is also added to some familiar greeting phrases; for example, ohay?-san ("good morning") and omedet?-san ("congratulations").
Since Kansai dialect is actually a group of related dialects, not all share the same vocabulary, pronunciation, or grammatical features. Each dialect has its own specific features discussed individually here.
Here is a division theory of Kansai dialects proposed by Mitsuo Okumura in 1968; ? shows dialects influenced by Kyoto dialect and ? shows dialects influenced by Osaka dialect, proposed by Minoru Umegaki in 1962.
Osaka-ben () is often identified with Kansai dialect by most Japanese, but some of the terms considered to be characteristic of Kansai dialect are actually restricted to Osaka and its environs. Perhaps the most famous is the term m?karimakka?, roughly translated as "how is business?", and derived from the verb m?karu (), "to be profitable, to yield a profit". This is supposedly said as a greeting from one Osakan to another, and the appropriate answer is another Osaka phrase, maa, bochi bochi denna "well, so-so, y'know".
The idea behind m?karimakka is that Osaka was historically the center of the merchant culture. The phrase developed among low-class shopkeepers and can be used today to greet a business proprietor in a friendly and familiar way but is not a universal greeting. The latter phrase is also specific to Osaka, in particular the term bochi bochi (L-L-H-L). This means essentially "so-so": getting better little by little or not getting any worse. Unlike m?karimakka, bochi bochi is used in many situations to indicate gradual improvement or lack of negative change. Also, bochi bochi (H-L-L-L) can be used in place of the standard Japanese soro soro, for instance bochi bochi iko ka "it is about time to be going".
In the Edo period, Senba-kotoba (?), a social dialect of the wealthy merchants in the central business district of Osaka, was considered the standard Osaka-ben. It was characterized by the polite speech based on Kyoto-ben and the subtle differences depending on the business type, class, post etc. It was handed down in Meiji, Taish? and Sh?wa periods with some changes, but after the Pacific War, Senba-kotoba became nearly an obsolete dialect due to the modernization of business practices. Senba-kotoba was famous for a polite copula gowasu or goasu instead of common Osakan copula omasu and characteristic forms for shopkeeper family mentioned below.
|An example of forms of address for shopkeeper family in Senba|
Southern branches of Osaka-ben, such as Sensh?-ben () and Kawachi-ben (), are famous for their harsh locution, characterized by trilled "r", the question particle ke, and the second person ware. The farther south in Osaka one goes, the cruder the language is considered to be, with the local Sensh?-ben of Kishiwada said to represent the peak of harshness.
Ky?to-ben () or Ky?-kotoba () is characterized by development of politeness and indirectness expressions. Kyoto-ben is often regarded as elegant and feminine dialect because of its characters and the image of Gion's geisha (geiko-han and maiko-han in Kyoto-ben), the most conspicuous speakers of traditional Kyoto-ben. Kyoto-ben is divided into the court dialect called Gosho kotoba (?) and the citizens dialect called Machikata kotoba (?). The former was spoken by court noble before moving the Emperor to Tokyo, and some phrases inherit at a few monzeki. The latter has subtle difference at each social class such as old merchant families at Nakagyo, craftsmen at Nishijin and geiko at Hanamachi (Gion, Miyagawa-ch? etc.)
Kyoto-ben was the de facto standard Japanese from 794 until the 18th century and some Kyoto people are still proud of their accent; they get angry when Tokyo people treat Kyoto-ben as a provincial accent. However, traditional Kyoto-ben is gradually declining except in the world of geisha, which prizes the inheritance of traditional Kyoto customs. For example, a famous Kyoto copula dosu, instead of standard desu, is used by a few elders and geisha now.
The verb inflection -haru is an essential part of casual speech in modern Kyoto. In Osaka and its environs, -haru has a certain level of politeness above the base (informal) form of the verb, putting it somewhere between the informal and the more polite -masu conjugations. However, in Kyoto, its position is much closer to the informal than it is to the polite mood, owing to its widespread use. Kyoto people, especially elderly women, often use -haru for their family and even for animals and weather.
Tango-ben () spoken in northernmost Kyoto Prefecture, is too different to be regarded as Kansai dialect and usually included in Ch?goku dialect. For example, the copula da, the Tokyo-type accent, the honorific verb ending -naru instead of -haru and the peculiarly diphthong [æ:] such as [akæ:] for akai "red".
Hy?go Prefecture is the largest prefecture in Kansai, and there are some different dialects in the prefecture. As mentioned above, Tajima-ben () spoken in northern Hy?go, former Tajima Province, is included in Ch?goku dialect as well as Tango-ben. Ancient vowel sequence /au/ changed [o:] in many Japanese dialects, but in Tajima, Tottori and Izumo dialects, /au/ changed [a:]. Accordingly, Kansai word ah? "idiot" is pronounced ahaa in Tajima-ben.
The dialect spoken in southwestern Hy?go, former Harima Province alias Bansh?, is called Bansh?-ben. As well as Ch?goku dialect, it has the discrimination of aspect, -yoru in progressive and -toru in perfect. Bansh?-ben is notable for transformation of -yoru and -toru into -y? and -t?, sometimes -yon and -ton. Another feature is the honorific copula -te ya, common in Tanba, Maizuru and San'y? dialects. In addition, Bansh?-ben is famous for an emphatic final particle doi or doiya and a question particle ke or ko, but they often sound violent to other Kansai speakers, as well as Kawachi-ben. K?be-ben () spoken in Kobe, the largest city of Hyogo, is the intermediate dialect between Bansh?-ben and Osaka-ben and is well known for conjugating -y? and -t? as well as Bansh?-ben.
Awaji-ben () spoken in Awaji Island, is different from Bansh?/K?be-ben and mixed with dialects of Osaka, Wakayama and Tokushima Prefectures due to the intersecting location of sea routes in the Seto Inland Sea and the Tokushima Domain rule in Edo period.
The dialect in Mie Prefecture, sometimes called Mie-ben (), is made up of Ise-ben () spoken in mid-northern Mie, Shima-ben () spoken in southeastern Mie and Iga-ben () spoken in western Mie. Ise-ben is famous for a sentence final particle ni as well as de. Shima-ben is close to Ise-ben, but its vocabulary includes many archaic words. Iga-ben has a unique request expression -te daako instead of standard -te kudasai.
They use the normal Kansai accent and basic grammar, but some of the vocabulary is common to the Nagoya dialect. For example, instead of -te haru (respectful suffix), they have the Nagoya-style -te mieru. Conjunctive particles de and monde "because" is widely used instead of sakai and yotte. The similarity to Nagoya-ben becomes more pronounced in the northernmost parts of the prefecture; the dialect of Nagashima and Kisosaki, for instance, could be considered far closer to Nagoya-ben than to Ise-ben.
In and around Ise city, some variations on typical Kansai vocabulary can be found, mostly used by older residents. For instance, the typical expression ?kini is sometimes pronounced ?kina in Ise. Near the Isuzu River and Naik? shrine, some old men use the first-person pronoun otai.
Kish?-ben () or Wakayama-ben (?), the dialect in old province Kii Province, present-day Wakayama Prefecture and southern parts of Mie Prefecture, is fairly different from common Kansai dialect and comprises many regional variants. It is famous for heavy confusion of z and d, especially on the southern coast. The ichidan verb negative form -n often changes -ran in Wakayama such as taberan instead of taben ("not eat"); -hen also changes -yan in Wakayama, Mie and Nara such as tabeyan instead of tabehen. Wakayama-ben has specific perticles. Y? is often used as sentence final particle. Ra follows the volitional conjugation of verbs as iko ra y?! ("Let's go!"). Noshi is used as soft sentence final particle. Yashite is used as tag question. Local words are akana instead of akan, omoshai instead of omoroi, aga "oneself", teki "you", tsuremote "together" and so on. Wakayama people hardly ever use keigo, which is rather unusual for dialects in Kansai.
Shiga Prefecture is the eastern neighbor of Kyoto, so its dialect, sometimes called Shiga-ben () or ?mi-ben () or G?sh?-ben (), is similar in many ways to Kyoto-ben. For example, Shiga people also frequently use -haru, though some people tend to pronounce -aru and -te yaaru instead of -haru and -te yaharu. Some elderly Shiga people also use -raru as a casual honorific form. The demonstrative pronoun so- often changes to ho-; for example, so ya becomes ho ya and sore (that) becomes hore. In Nagahama, people use the friendly-sounding auxiliary verb -ansu and -te yansu. Nagahama and Hikone dialects has a unique final particle hon as well as de.
The dialect in Nara Prefecture is divided into northern including Nara city and southern including Totsukawa. The northern dialect, sometimes called Nara-ben () or Yamato-ben (), has a few particularities such as an interjectory particle mii as well as naa, but the similarity with Osaka-ben increases year by year because of the economic dependency to Osaka. On the other hand, southern Nara prefecture is a language island because of its geographic isolation with mountains. The southern dialect uses Tokyo type accent, has the discrimination of grammatical aspect, and does not show a tendency to lengthen vowels at the end of monomoraic nouns.
For non-Japanese speakers, learning environment of Kansai dialect is richer than other dialects.