Let’s Speak Japanese Dialect! 10 funny phrases in Osaka!

Let's Speak Japanese Dialect! 10 funny phrases in Osaka

The Kanto region language that foreigners learn is ‘standard’ Japanese, but it won’t surprise you to learn that every region of Japan has its own local dialect (ben). This time, I’ll introduce something of the Osaka dialect, known for unique phraseology, divergent grammar, and rhythmic enunciation.



 

Let’s Speak Japanese Dialect! 10 funny phrases in Osaka!

 

1. Thanks!

Osakans understand standard Japanese, so saying “arigato” (thank you) won’t confuse them, though the common Osaka-ben term is “ōkini.” Originally a modifying adverb, as in ” ōkini arigato” (thank you very much), it’s shortened to “ōkini” in most cases. Other phrases include “ōkini gochisosan” (thanking someone for a meal) and “ōkini sumahen” (apologising for being a nuisance).

 

2. How are you? I’m fine, thanks!

I’ve a good relationship with my Osaka business contacts and they enjoy teaching me the Osaka dialect. They’ll greet me with “Mokkari-makka?” (lit. Are you prospering?), to which I reply “Bochi-bochi denna” (not bad/so-so) and they crack up laughing; I still can’t quite get my pronunciation to sound natural!

 

3. How Much is this?

Kore nambo? is Osaka-ben for the standard Japanese “kore wa ikura desu ka?” (how much is this?). Osaka has a long and distinct commercial history and Osakans live to bargain for the best price they can get! The phrase “kore nambo ni shite kurerun?” is used to ask a seller for his best price.

 

4. Let’s Make a Deal!

In Osaka’s commercial life, old-fashioned bartering still takes place in some contexts. “Makete?” (can you give me a discount?) won’t be any use at a supermarket, but at market stalls or discount electrical stores it might secure a bargain; you’ve nothing to lose by trying!

 

5. I’ll Think About It!

Ōkini kangaetokimassu is usually translated as “no thank you” but is closer in meaning to “I’ll give it some thought (kangae).” Whether you do or not, it’s a nice remote phrase for politely rejecting an offer.

 

 

6. You Must be Joking!

Nande ya nen! (You must be joking!/You’re putting me on!) is one of those phrases that all non-Osakans want to master. Fortunately, most Osakans have a mischievous sense of humour and love to exaggerate, so if you believe you’re having your leg pulled, “Nande ya nen!” is a wonderful, non-confrontational way to respond. Actually, it’s a common straight-man punchline with “Manzai” stand-up comedy duos, but all Osakans are comedians at heart!

 

7. So It Goes!

A lot of young foreigners in Tokyo delight in the fashionable use of “Shogenai!” (can’t be helped/so it goes/c’est la vie/que sera sera) to express resignation. In Osaka, the expression “Shānai!” serves the same purpose, pronounced with a long exaggerated middle vowel and slurred ending.

 

8. Emphasis

Osaka/Kansai people are generally more expressive than their Kanto counterparts so everyday speech is full of emphasis, some of it intonational, some lexical. A very common adverb in Osaka-ben is “metcha” (really/very/extremely) which is equivalent to standard Japanese “totemo” though probably far more widely applied; eg. “metcha kawaii” (very cute). Similarly, the suffix “ya nen” is widely used to emphasise what comes before it and/or seek agreement; eg. “metcha kawaii ya nen!” (very cute, isn’t it/don’t you agree!). In this way, “ya nen” bears similarities with standard Japanese “desu ne, desu yo, and desu yone.”

 

9. Jibes, Insults and Objections

I’ve written elsewhere about the ‘friendly’ uses of “baka” (idiot, dick head, etc.) in standard Japanese, but in Osaka-ben, “aho” serves the same casual purpose whilst “baka” can be quite insulting. Cross the line with a Tokyo girl, and she’ll yell “Dame!” (bad/naughty), “Yamete!” (stop that!), or “Etchi!” (Dirty!/Lewd!), but her Osaka counterpart will growl “Akan!”, “Yanpi!” or “Yarashii!” respectively.

 

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. In Osaka, the equivalent casual farewell is “Hona nā!”

 

Conclusion

This could only ever be a very brief introduction to the Osaka dialect, for it’s as rich and complex, as the people are warm and expressive. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of online tutorials and lexicons for anyone interested in learning Osaka-ben, but it’s still better to grasp standard Japanese first, to at least an intermediate level, before tackling the Osakan grammar, in which case, living in Osaka will provide the best experience. Hona nā!

 

Let’s Speak Japanese Dialect! 10 funny phrases in Osaka!

1. Thanks!
2. How are you? I’m fine, thanks!
3. How Much is this?
4. Let’s Make a Deal!
5. I’ll Think About It!
6. You Must be Joking!
7. So It Goes!
8. Emphasis
9. Jibes, Insults and Objections
10. See Ya!