An Atlas of Japanese Dialects



My wife has a bad habit of sticking a chunk of Hi-Chew (ハイチュウ) taffy into my son's gob whenever he's in a mean and ornery mood. It used to drive me crazy until I realized the wrappers featured different phrases in Japanese dialects.


おたべやす (Otabeyasu)

召し上がれ (Meshiagare: Please eat)



ごしゃくよ (Goshakuyo)

怒る (Okoru: be/become angry)



まいどおきに (Maido okini)

ありがとう (Arigatō: Thank you)



うめーらー (Umērā)

美味しいでしょ (Oishii desho: Delicious, isn't it.)



もっちゅう? (Mocchū)

持っている? (Motteiru: Do you have . . .?)



ぴっぴ (Pippi)

うどん (Udon: udon noodles)


I'll post more of these phrases as my son eats the taffy.








The name Iichiko (いいちこ) originates from the Ōita dialect and means “good” (いい, ii). Adding ~chiko (ちこ) is a way to lend emphasis to a word. It is thought that ~chiko may be a contraction of ~cha (ちゃ) and ~kon (こん). Iichiko is used more often to turn something down or refuse something than to evaluate it positively, a duality of meaning similar to kekkō des’ (結構です) and ii des’ (いいです) which can mean both “yes, please” or “no, thanks”. So, brush up your mind-reading skills before coming to Japan.

“Would you like something to drink?”


“Um . . .”


“Eh . . . Was that a yes-iichiko or a no-iichiko?”

“Neither. I want to drink Iichiko.”



From Wiki:

母「ひろしちゃん、今日はさーみなっき、こん上着を着ちいきない(標準語: ひろしちゃん、今日は寒くなるから、この上着を着ていきなさい)」

Mother: Hiroshi-chan, kyō-wa samī nakki, kon uwagi-o kichiikinai. (Standard Japanese: Hiroshi-chan, kyō-wa samukunaru kara, kono uwagi wo kiteikinasai.)

Meaning: Hiroshi-chan, it’s going to get cold today, so wear this jacket.


ひろし「いいちゃ。今日は、ずっとぬっかろうけん(標準語: いいよ。今日は、ずっと暖いだろうから)」

Hiroshi: Iicha. Kyō-wa zutto nukkarō-ken. (Standard Japanese: Iiyo. Kyō-wa zutto attakai darō kara.)

Meaning: That’s okay. It’ll probably be warm all day.


母「風邪(かじぃ)引いたらつまらんき、着ちいきないちゃ(標準語: 風邪を引いたら困るから、着ていきなさいよ)」

Mother: Kajii hiitara tsumaranki, kichikinaicha. (Standard Japanese: Kaze-o hittara komarukara, kiteikinasai.)

Meaning: Wear it. If you catch a cold, you’ll have a hard time of it.


ひろし「いいちゃ(標準語: いいよ=要らないよ)」

Hiroshi: Iicha. (Standard: iiyo = iranaiyo)

Meaning: I’m fine (= I don’t need it.)


母「着ていきないちこ(標準語: 着ていきなさいってば!)」

Mother: Keteikinaichiko (Standard: kiteikinasaitteba!)

Meaning: I said, wear it!


ひろし「いいちこ(標準語: いいってんだよ!=要らないってば!)」

Hiroshi: Iichiko (Standard: iittendayo = Iranaitteba!)

Meaning: I said I’m fine! (I said I don’t need it!)





Show Me the Money!

   There are, or should we say were, almost 80 different ways to say kane (money) in Japan. This map comes The National Language Research Institute's Linguistic Atlas of Japan. Ah, to get my hands on this book!



Kumamoto Hōgen Tips for Relief Workers


Library Score

   The other day I went to the local public library looking for some children's books in English. Although I didn't find what I was looking for, I did come across two series of books for young readers on Japan's various dialects. I picked up two volumes each on the Kyūshū and Okinawan dialects. Being the nerd that I am, I was actually quite excited about it and couldn't wait to dive into the books.


Quiz Time: What does the following mean?