Its not enough just to learn how to speak Japanese. You’re going to want to speak with a certain level of friendliness or style; otherwise you’ll sound as dull as a doorknob.
The Japanese are typically reserved people. If you want to bring out the friendliness or fun in them you’ll have to make an effort to be interesting or friendly yourself. There are various ways this can be achieved.
One of them is to simply speak in a particular dialect of Japanese which is strongly associated with ‘warmth’ and ‘friendliness’. It is called the Kansai dialect, which is spoken in the ‘Kansai’ Region of Japan. It is synonymous with Osaka-ben.
Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect)
The Stereotypical Kansai-jin (a person from Kansai) is outgoing, fast talking, funny, friendly, quick-witted and caring.
While there is a distinct quality/tone in the way the speak (we're talking about changing emphasis on syllable, not like an accent as in a British vs American accent), the tone is in fact (strangely as it may seem) not a requisite for speaking Kansai-ben (Kansai dialect). I repeat, they do not pronounce words differently like someone from New York or Fargo would compared to normal American English. People in Kansai pronounce the same way as people in Tokyo, they just change the intonation of the syllables, and use their own words.
Speaking Kansai-ben depends on three elements:
- Use of a certain vocabulary
- Changing emphasis on the syllables in words
- Different grammar rules
But you can get by and sound 'Kansai-ish', by simply using the Kansai vocabulary and not using their intonations or special grammar.
Before we begin
Before you start in learning Kansai-ben it is important to note that there are two ways to go about it. One is to just learn pat phrases and little tid bits which will get you plenty of laughs. Things such as 'nandeyanen' etc etc. (means 'what the heck!?').
The other is to actually learn the grammar of Kansai-ben so you can talk like a native, and not sound like everyone else who tries to imitate them.
The first way is recommended for beginners, however for those who actually want to HOW to speak like people from kansai you must FIRST understand Kanto-ben, which is normal Japanese.
Learning Kansai-ben before you understand standard Japanese will make your learning experience a nightmare of confusion.
It is recommended to get up to an intermediate level of Japanese before you take on Kansai-ben from the viewpoint of talking like a native speaker. There are precise grammatical conversions you do from standard Japanese to Kansai-ben, and if you don't understand them in standard Japanese you will not be able to understand it in Kansai Japanese.
The scope of this article is to give you straight up the phrases and common words of Kansai-ben without any grammar, as its self.
And then for those who are interested, a little deeper level with more attention on grammar. Continue to read on for a list of pat Kansai-ben phrases. And for a more in depth explantion click here.
Tokyo-ben and Kansai-ben Compared
Common Japanese is referred to as “Tokyo-ben or Kanto-ben” Here is a chart with just a few words in Tokyo, Kansai and English:
Kansai Words and Phrases
Here is a typical list of Kansai words and phrases:
Nande ya nen!?
Let's tie it together now:
What the hell/heck?!
How do you say the words?
You must make sure not to enunciate! EVER! You must slur and speak rapidly your Kansai-ben. For example the phrase: bari ee yan. You do not say three seperate words with pauses between. Although they ARE three seperate words there you must slur them together as one, and say it in one breath and fast: barieeyan.
BONUS: Tokyo Japanese Slang
BONUS!!! Let's take a break and learn how them cool young folk over in Tokyo talk.
Aside from speaking in Kansai-ben, having a liberal supply of Tokyo slang on hand is key in speaking with a friendly and likable manner. What’s more it will almost guarantee jaw-dropping and stunned reactions from certain people, when they here you utter these words or phrases.
'nani iu ten no' is Tokyo/Kanto.... 'nani iu ten nen' is Osaka/Kansai!
'nani shiten no' is Tokyo/Kanto... 'nani shiten nen' is Osaka/Kansai!