Alexandre Scalzitti
Influence of Local Dialects in Your Japanese

Hello, everybody!


Foreigners living in Japan should be careful when learning new Japanese words and expressions from people around them. They should check them using a dictionary or asking a teacher because the new expression or word can be from the local dialect. 


If you intend to be a long-term resident here in Japan, learning some of the local dialect is not a bad idea. In fact, learning some of the dialect brings you a social plus because people around you will enjoy your efforts to learn. However, keeping your standard Japanese fit is the best to do. 


My wife is from Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu. They have a pretty heavy accent and differences in vocabulary too. When I first came to Japan, there was an evening I was trying to talk with my mother-in-law. Then after a few minutes she pointed her finger in my direction and said...



I thought she had said that I would have a "bump" on my head (コブ) but I didn't feel any pain or injury on my head. I touched my head trying to search for a possible injury and she said:




When I turned back, I saw a huge spider on the wall behind me. In the local dialect, the word コブ means "spider" and not "bump". The standard Japanese word for that is クモ.

Very interesting but let's be careful!


Have fun!





Apr 18, 2014 6:01 AM
Comments · 3

Hello, Haru!

Thanks a lot for your comment. 

I am interested in southern Kyushu dialects. In Miyazaki Prefecture, many people say 「なおす」meaning 「片づける」. If you have friends from Miyazaki Prefecture, invite them for lunch or dinner, then after the meal, try to say 「お皿をなおしとくわ!. They will be surprised!

Many people from Miyazaki who move to Tokyo say such things... 「食器をなおすね。」 and people from Tokyo will check if the cup, plate or bowl is broken or not... This is the time when people from Tokyo tell people from Miyazaki about standard Japanese... and this is the first time that people from Miyazaki learn about the correct use of 片づける.


Thank you very much!




April 19, 2014

Your experience is interesting. I like this sort of story. :D By the way, I sometimes hear that the same things happen to native speakers except ones born and raised in or neaby Tokyo. They speak both their own dialect and standard Japanese, but they sometimes don't know some words are dialects until they move to another area and live there.

April 19, 2014

Hello, Alex! Thanks for another story. :D

I didn't know the dialect 'なおす'. I think it is hard to assume its mearning. I would think that they say plates are broken, or they are going to make them a little neat at that place.

April 20, 2014
Alexandre Scalzitti
Language Skills
Chinese (Cantonese), English, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Vietnamese
Learning Language