Let’s Enjoy 10 funny Japanese dialect phrases in Hiroshima!

Let's Enjoy 10 funny Japanese dialect phrases in Hiroshima!

Most foreigners learn ‘standard’ Japanese, but every region of Japan has its own local dialect (ben), as this short series of articles explores. The Hiroshima dialect has an undeserved reputation in Japan as being uncouth. This has little to do with grammatical or lexical divergence but is a perception of the frankness of expression in everyday Hiroshima-ben speech.



 

Let’s Enjoy 10 funny Japanese dialect phrases in Hiroshima!

 

1. You Is Bad!

Students of standard Japanese will know how the 2nd person pronoun “anata” (you) is avoided where possible. This isn’t a general rule in all Japanese dialects, so words such as “omyaasan” in Nagoya-ben are viewed as being ‘quaint’ local expressions. However, in Hiroshima-ben, “anata” is contracted to “anta” and this is seen as disrespectful, certainly in Tokyo where I grew up.

 

2. I’m Bad!

In Hiroshima-ben, “watashi” (me/I) is contracted to “washi” for males, and “uchi” for females (“uchi” means house, so obviously that’s where women belong!). Now I could say “Uchi wa Tokyo-jin desu” (I’m a Tokyoite), but in Hiroshima, particle “wa” is further contracted with the preceding pronoun, so we get “washa” and “ucha” for males and females respectively, as in “Ucha Tokyo-jin jaken.”

 

3. We’re All Bad!

The 1st and 2nd person plurals of standard Japanese are “watashitachi” and “anatatachi” respectively. But Hiroshima-ben suffixes its contracted pronouns with “raa” so we get “washiraa” (we/us) and “antaraa” (you), as in “Washiraa [wa]* Hiroshima-jin jaken” (We are Hiroshima-ites). * It’s likely that particle “wa” will be elided completely in casual speech.

 

4. Not Just Bad, But Weird!

My parents would’ve scolded me severely for using the above expressions, though I remember ‘naughty’ boys from Yokohama, Saitama and Chiba used to speak like that to sound tough! But I quite like Hiroshima-ben, even if it’s a bit “hen” (strange), or as Hiroshima people might say “inage”. Yes, “Hiroshima-ben inage jaken!” (The Hiroshima dialect is strange!).

 

5. What Happened to “desu”?

Eagle-eyed students of Japanese will have noticed that I’ve replaced the expected copula “desu” at the end of sentences with “jaken” because Hiroshima-ben favours copula “ja” over the standard “da”. The “ken” part is equivalent to “kara” so a literal interpretation of “jaken” would be “dakara” (therefore), though it’s simply a replacement for “desu” in this case.

 

 

6. So What About “dakara”?

Actually, “jaken” is used liberally in Hiroshima-ben and means the same as “dakara” (so/therefore) when linking ideas across sentences. But it’s also used to ‘pad out’ utterances in much the same way that English speakers use “you know”, “like”, “know what I mean?” etc. “Jaken” is a very useful word to know.

 

7. Great!

Students of Japanese will know the adjective “sugoi” (great/cool), and you may have heard this pronounced as “sugee” by young boys in particular; this is pure Hiroshima-ben! Other adjectives get similar treatment: “samui” (cold) becomes “samee”, “ii” (good) becomes “ee”, “umai” (tasty) becomes “umā” and “tsumaranai” (boring) becomes “tsumaran”.

 

8. Greater!

Buchi is Hiroshima-ben’s distinctive adjective intensifier. Examples include: “buchi sugee” (really great), “buchi samee” (very cold), “buchi ee” really good and “buchi tsumaran” (very boring). “Kyō wa tenki ga buchi ee” (Today’s weather is very nice); “Kore wa buchi umā!” (this is very tasty!).

 

9. Greater Still!

Buchi goes through some transformations to further intensify adjectives: “buchi sugee!” (really cool) to “bachi sugee!!” (extremely cool) to “kachi sugee!!!” (totally cool). So, if you say something is “Kachi umā!” it had better be the tastiest thing you’ve ever eaten!

 

10. See ya!

Students of standard Japanese will already know the casual farewell “Jā ne!” that friends exchange at the end of the evening or when leaving for home, often suffixed with “Bai-bai” (Bye bye). In Hiroshima, “Hoija!” (See you!) is the common way to bid farewell.

 

Conclusion

The above list is in no way an exhaustive look at the Hiroshima dialect, which is far richer lexically and divergent grammatically. As for the suggestion that Hiroshima-ben is uncouth… well, maybe it seems that way to uptight Kanto people, but it is an honest kind of dialect, blunt and to the point, so it says a lot about the people who speak it. Hoija!

 

Let’s Enjoy 10 funny Japanese dialect phrases in Hiroshima!

1. You Is Bad!
2. I’m Bad!
3. We’re All Bad!
4. Not Just Bad, But Weird!
5. What Happened to “desu”?
6. So What About “dakara”?
7. Great!
8. Greater!
9. Greater Still!
10. See ya!