What resources exist to help me become comfortable with a dialect of Japanese?
September 25, 2007 9:35 PM   Subscribe

In preparation of studying abroad in the Tohoku region of Japan next year, I am looking for useful dialect-related tools and resources.

Background: I'm currently planning to study abroad for an academic year at Tohoku University. This would be next year from October-July. I'm currently in my fourth year of Japanese study, and about at the intermediate level (500+ kanji, between JLPT 3 and 2).

I have recently become aware that the Tohoku-ben dialect is notoriously difficult to understand. I'm thinking that in addition to my normal Japanese classes it may be a good idea to expose myself to this dialect now so I don't have (as much) linguistic shock when I arrive.

I have already found sites such as http://hougen.u-biq.org/, but I am also looking for other stuff. Things that come to mind as useful would be suggestions of Anime, Dramas, and Movies set in Tohoku region (and with dialect). Also the more traditional language resources like recorded conversations and books explaining dialect differences beyond what Wikipedia provides would be useful.

It may be the case that I am a little bit too antsy about this little issue (in proportion to other things I could be worrying about), but I'd rather hear the opinions of people with more experiences than me. If you've studied abroad/lived in Sendai or Touhoku, please let me know how your experience with respect to language / dialect differences.
posted by mezamashii to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I doubt this will be much use to you, but I'll offer it just in case: In the anime Someday's Dreamers (魔法遣いに大切なこと) the main character Yume has a Tohoku-ben, but only in flashbacks or when she gets angry or really excited.

The series is about her spending a month in Tokyo during the summer so she can be trained as a mahou tsukai, and since she doesn't want to come across as a hick, most of the time she suppresses her accent.

It's a really good series, just in passing. I recommend it strongly. But out of 12 half-hour episodes I suspect there isn't more than 5 minutes of material such as you are looking for.

The majority of that is in the 4th episode in a flashback where Yume is talking to her friend Junko. Listening to that scene drives me nuts, because it doesn't even sound like Japanese to me. After listening to it a lot of times, I've gotten to the point where I can pick out some words, but that's really all.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:49 PM on September 25, 2007

Honestly, I think it will be much easier to pick it up once you are there. If your Japanese is already good enough to have relatively simple conversations, then this will make a great conversation topic when you are meeting the locals. I'm in Kyushu right now, and I've found that most Japanese people are interested in dialects and they're always happy to help explain local dialect stuff; plus then you get bettter common examples and better hatsuon when they're explaining.

Also, I mostly only hear the local dialects here from kids, or in very casual conversations (or when people are pissed). Most dialects are considered a lower or more vulgar form of speech, so the people working at grocery stores, banks, etc.. all know better than to use local hougen to customers.
posted by p3t3 at 10:39 PM on September 25, 2007

Mezamahii there's no point in learning or exposing yourself to Tohoku-ben to most it's something their grandparents spoke. There are also a large number of variations such as (where I live) Shirakawa-ben, Aizu-ben etc. and that's only 2 smallish cities in Fukushima-ken so where do you start? People know some words or phrases but mostly a standard Japanese is spoken. I've lived in Tohoku and Tokyo alternately for over 12 years and I've yet to hear a conversation in Tohoku-ben, sometimes a few phrases but that's all.
posted by AndyM825 at 11:31 PM on September 25, 2007

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