genki_rocket: (MIKA!)
[personal profile] genki_rocket

I had heard about Kumamoto ben (dialect) before I got here. One of my Japanese friends had been a tour guide before moving to the US and told me that Kumamoto people were very hard to understand.

The dialect of Kyushu is, in my opinion, awesome. To me, it sounds a bit rough and very different from the Tokyo dialect - which is considered 'standard Japanese'. I love it.

But to other people, I think that it sounds very...hick-ish hahaha.

I want to talk about Kyushu ben (specifically Kumamoto's dialect) for a few entries so I'll just start with probably the easiest, most recognizable difference: bai.

In Kumamoto, people tack on 'bai' to the end of their sentences. It takes the place of 'desu' or 'da yo'. I was skeptical when I read this, but upon getting here I found it was 100% true. Here's an example.

'Hontou desu yo!' (Really!) becomes 'Hontou bai!' in Kumamoto ben.

At recess, my kids often say 'Ian Sensei! Ikou bai!' (Let's go!)

There are a bunch of other instances in which people say it. You can really just tack it on to whatever you want, it seems.

I think that it's a super cool thing and I've definitely made a conscious effort to adopt it into my vernacular. This has caused some weird looks whenever I talk to people who are from other places in Japan, but I don't care. I just really like speaking the local dialect of where I live. I did the same thing when I lived in Spain because I feel like when you eventually leave that place, you'll have always have a part of you that reflects where you used to live. It becomes part of your identity and I like that.

So whenever curious locals ask me if I'm visiting from somewhere, I grin and say "いや、ここに住んでいるばい!" (Nope, I live here, yo!) . This both surprises them and puts them at ease, I think. I've noticed that using Kumamoto ben with older people always works out favorably for me - they're the ones who use it the most!

Have any expats in Japan or other countries picked up on any words or dialects?? What do you think about it all?

Date: 2012-07-08 11:38 pm (UTC)
nintendoh: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nintendoh
My feelings about expats/foreigners using local dialect are a bit split. On one hand I don't really think beginners should really attempt local dialects and/or slang, as despite the fact they might try to use it to sound more natural it usually comes out quite the opposite (as I've seen firsthand from MANY a beginner English conversation students, as well as from some of my coworkers that can't really speak Japanese but like to pretend they do). On the other, if you've lived in a place for a while, been studying Japanese and talking to the locals, LOCAL DIALECT WILL HAPPEN. For myself, I do use some Kansai ben, but only when it comes out 100% naturally. Intonation and stress of Kansai ben is a little different than standard Japanese, though, and I do wonder how much of that has affected me without me noticing it. I have a hard time picking up on the differences in that regard, but on occasion it has been pointed out to me that I used Kansai-like intonation when saying X or Y.

Date: 2012-07-10 06:45 pm (UTC)
deathgaze: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deathgaze
I love dialects (well I love language in general but)

I was too low a level to pick up on it when I went to Sendai, but I know when we left there and traveled around, whenever we told people we came from Sendai they'd be like "but don't they talk funny there?" When I visited my host family the second time I went to Japan, I did notice the cadence was different but I didn't pick up on any vocab differences. I know most northerners do the guttural が that's essentially absent from standard Japanese. Tokyo Japanese is so boring though, so I don't mind if people try dialects, but usually it does seem forced. Especially when someone is clearly a beginner and doing it to sound fluent.

Date: 2012-07-13 08:56 pm (UTC)
woolychicken: (Default)
From: [personal profile] woolychicken
I have no experience for Japanese, but yeah I do think it is a good idea not only to learn the language but also the local variants as an expat. I don't really think of myself as an expat though, I'm an immigrant. Expats live apart, in their own enclaves, don't try the local food, don't get fluent in the language, etc.

Here the language is the same, but I do consciously strive to pick up the local accents and phrasing and I read up on the local history and culture.


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