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Learn Japanese! Kansai Dialect


I had the pleasure to meet Ikue Shingu (Lecturer in Japanese, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Junko Hatanaka (Lecturer in Japanese, The University of Texas at Austin) at the American Council of Teacher’s of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) a few months ago. We discussed their website for learning the Kansai dialect of Japanese. As a linguist, teacher, former resident of Osaka, and Kansai-ben lover, I found the site to be most interesting. Check out the various chapters to watch video dialogue, practice reading and writing, listening, and speaking. Here is a short blurb on Kansaiben:The Japanese taught as a foreign language is what we call “Standard Japanese.” Descriptively speaking, the Standard Japanese is the variety used in the Tokyo area. The original ‘Standard Japanese” was in large part the product of political considerations during the last half of theMeiji era (1868 -1912) under the Genbun itchi (the unification of the spoken and written language) movement, a movement dedicated to present a united face to the world so that Japan would be perceived as a civilized nation. Standard Japanese, based on the dialect of Tokyo Yamanotearea, has personified prestige and power since the Meiji government adopted it as the national language and began standardizing language education in schools. Although the situation has not been the same since WWII, Standard Japanese is still used as the representative Japanese language on public occasions. If you live in or visit the Kansai area and want to belong to the Kansai people, you should try to greet them in their own language – – i.e. to use their “we code.” Check out the website for more: http://llarc.mit.edu/kansai/

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