Hakata-ben kouza: negative forms

Posted on October 28, 2006 | evankirby


Today's feature of Hakata-ben is not unique to Fukuoka, but is still recognized as one of the characteristics of Hakata-ben. It is the method of saying the negative verb - "to not do something".
In standard Japanese, the negative form of verbs is made in one of two ways, depending on the verb group.
- For group 2 verbs (basically, verbs ending in "-ru"), the negative form is made by dropping 「ます」 ("masu") from the polite form of the verb, and adding 「ない」 ("nai"), or 「ません」 ("masen") for polite negatives. For example:
Dictionary form -> Polite form -> Negative form
食べる (taberu, to eat) -> 食べます -> 食べない / 食べません
見る (miru, to see) > 見ます -> 見ない / 見ません

- For group 1 verbs (verbs not ending in "-ru", and a few "-ru" verbs too), drop ます
from the polite form, change the last vowel sound to "a", and then add ない. For polite form, just drop the ます and add ません, as with group 2 verbs. For example:
泳ぐ (oyogu, to swim) -> 泳ぎます -> 泳がない / 泳ぎません
読む (yomu, to read) -> 読みます -> 読まない / 読みません
遊ぶ (asobu, to play) -> 遊びます -> 遊ばない / 遊びません

So, the above is a quick explanation of the standard Japanese negative form. Changing this to the Hakata-ben negative form is easy! Just drop the ない, and add 「ん」 in its place!
So, some examples:
食べない -> 食べん
泳がない -> 泳がん
読まない -> 読まん
遊ばない -> 遊ばん

Notice that 見ない is not included in the above list. This is because the shortened version of it would be just 見ん (min), which is so short that it's hard to recognize as a verb! For this reason, most people would say 見ない instead, even in Fukuoka.

Finally, as we said, this special negative form is not only used in Fukuoka. It's also quite common in older men around Japan. However, when combined with some of the other Hakata-ben we've taught in previous chapters, this will definitely make you sound like a native Fukuokan!

Hakata-ben: "けん"

Posted on October 03, 2006 | evankirby

Hakata-ben kouza

It's a slow news week, so here's the second part of our 博多弁講座 (hakataben kouza).
This time, we look at the word "けん" (ken).
This word is the Hakata-ben equivalent of the word から (kara) or ので (node), meaning "so" or "therefore". Of course, as it's 方言 (hougen, or regional dialect), it's a lot less formal than "therefore".
An example:
Standard Japanese: 5年も仕事をしていないので、雇ってくれませんか?
go-nen mo shigoto o shiteinai node, yatotte kuremasen ka?
I haven't had a job in 5 years, so would you hire me?

In Hakata ben, this becomes:
Go-nen mo shigoto shite nai ken, yatotte kuren to?

In this example, "ので" is simply replaced with "けん".

"けん" is also often used together with the verb "だ" (sometimes changed to "や"), as "だけん" or "やけん". This takes the place of the standard "だから" (dakara). "やけん" is more informal than "だけん".

Standard Japanese: ズボンは黒ですから、シャツはどの色でも合うよ。
Zubon wa kuro desu kara, shatsu wa dono iro demo au yo.
It's a black shirt, so any color of pants will match.

In Hakata ben, this becomes:
Zubon wa kuro yaken, shatsu wa dono iro demo au ttai.

Finally, "やけん" or "だけん" can also be used to replace "だから" in it's other meaning: when someone misunderstands you, and you want to sound exasperated when you correct them:


A-san: Kinyoubi ga san-jussai no tanjoubi ttai.
B-san: Ee, mou yon-jussai to?
A-san: Daken san-jussai tte yutteru yarou ga!

A: It's my 30th birthday this Friday.
B: Wow, you're 40 already?
A: I said 30, dumbass!

Notice that there isn't really a direct translation for the Japanese "だけん" or "だから" in the last sentence - in English, it would most likely be conveyed just through tone of voice, or of course the word dumbass...

Hakata-ben kouza: "-ttai"

Posted on March 11, 2006 | evankirby

Hakata-ben kouza

What makes Fukuoka's local dialect, Hakata-ben, different from standard Japanese? The single part of speech that symbolizes Hakata-ben for most people is the word "ttai" (or sometimes just "tai"). This is a suffix that is added to the end of sentences, and generally is used almost the same as "yo", to tell the listener that this is new information. An example:
English: The Hawks (Fukuoka's local baseball team) won again today.
Standard Japanese: Kyou, Hookusu ga mata katta yo.
(Direct translation: Today, Hawks [subject] again won [new info marker].
Hakata-ben: Kyou, Hookusu ga mata kattattai.

There are of course small differences between "ttai" and "yo". "ttai" sounds as if the story will continue afterwards, more so than "yo", so if you stop talking after saying "ttai", there's a good chance the other person will say "sore de?" ("and...?"), expecting you to continue.

Just by adding this to the end of your sentences, you're halfway to sounding like a born-and-bred Fukuoka native!

What is Hakata-ben?

Posted on November 24, 2005 | evankirby

Hakata-ben kouza

As you know, our school is located in Fukuoka City, on the island of Kyushu, in Southern Japan. The local people speak a dialect of Japanese called Hakata-ben, Hakata being the name of the other town that Fukuoka combined with to become the place we know and love. Hakata-ben is quite famous throughout Japan, and people often say it has a ‘cute’ sound. As we're quite far from Tokyo, Hakata-ben has some big differences from standard Japanese, and we'll be going into some of those differences in the coming weeks. Needless to say, a foreigner who can speak Japanese with a Hakata-ben accent is a thing of wonder. Practice up on the phrases we introduce before you come to Fukuoka and you'll make friends in no time!
Choose "Hakata-ben" from the Categories menu on the right to see only the posts related to that topic. (We promise there'll be more soon!)