Osaka dialect is one of many dialects spoken in Japan. It is quite distinguished from standard Japanese that even if you have learned Japanese, you might feel like you are in a whole different country when you are in the area. Learn to use the following seven phrases that are very common and useful.
#1. Nandeyanen – なんでやねん
“Nandeyanen,” a phrase that means “Why?” or “How come?”, can be heard often in a conversation between two stand-up comedians. Usually, one of them will go along with the other’s jokes but later point out its ridiculousness. For instance, when one of the comedian duo said “I did some push ups yesterday, so my legs are hurting now.”, the other one would respond with “Nandeyanen!!” pointing out the obvious silliness. At the same time, it is also a phrase to express one’s disappointment, irritation, frustration, or anger when things didn’t turn out the way she/he had expected. For example, you can say “Nandeyanen” when you find out that your favorite restaurant is closed that day after you have traveled quite far to get there.
#2. Ookini – おおきに
“Ookini” can have two different meanings: “Thank you” or sometimes “Sorry.” Ookini’s original meaning is “greatly” or “very much”. For this reason, “Ookini” is commonly used at restaurants. As customers are leaving, restaurant staff members would send them off with “Ookini!”, hoping that they will come again. On the other hand, when one is very sorry, she/he can say “Ookini” as well. In this case, it’s usually followed by “Sunmahenna (I’m very sorry)”. “Sunmahen” in Japanese also means “Thank you” depending on its context. Therefore, “Ookini. Sunmahen” can also mean “Thank you. I appreciate it!” For example, if you asked your friend a favor and she/he says yes, you can say “Ookini. Sunmahen” to express your thankfulness.
#3. Sunmahen – すんまへん
“Sunmahen” is the same as “Sumimasen,” one of the very first words learned in Japanese beginners class. It means “excuse me,” “please,” “thank you,” or “sorry.” It is used in the same way as we would use these words in English. However, it seems to be favored and used more often by elders as it sounds a little too casual for young people to use at work. It is probably for this reason that people in Tokyo are not fond of “Sunmahen.” This is one of the phrases in Osaka dialect that will not sound quite right unless you are a native speaker in that region. Store clerks can be heard saying “Sunmahen” (likely with a bow), for example, at customer service counters when customers complain about some defects on products they have bought.
#4. Chau Chau – ちゃうちゃう
“Chau chau” came from standard Japanese “Chigau chigau” which means “No, no. (That’s not it.)” However, “Chau chau” sounds less harsh than the standard “Chigau chigau,” which helps the recipient to accept the correction without feeling being offended. It is an interesting way Osaka dialect communicates: being straight forward yet keep peace with others. One thing you need to be careful when pronouncing “Chau chau” is its accent. If you place the accent at the end, it became the dog chow chow. Make sure to put the accent at the beginning to avoid making this mistake.
#5. Nanbo – なんぼ
“Nanbo” is a frequently used phrase which means “How much?.” Locals use this phrase often because they are known for endless negotiating a lower price (even on items that are already on sale) when they shop. It is not exaggerating to say that mastering the use of the phrase “Nanbo” is the same as mastering survival skills in Osaka. As an example, you can say, “Sunmahen, Kore Nanbo?” (Excuse me, how much is this?).
#6. Beppin – べっぴん
“Beppin (Beppin san)” is referred to beautiful ladies. However, it is used for someone who is easy going and outgoing; it is used to describe a girl next door, rather than gorgeous ladies in a beauty pageant, for instance. While Osaka culture is described as the Latin culture in Japan, Osaka people are known to be shy in expressing their feelings. And that’s why instead of saying “You are beautiful,” “Beppin (Beppinsan)” is a softer and less direct way to express one’s feeling.
#7. Hona – ほな
“Hona” is a very useful word. It is said that if you are able to use it proficiently in different contexts, you are an official Kansai-jin (native speaker of Osaka dialect, also known as Kansai dialect). The common English equivalent to “Hona” is “well” or “then.” For example, if what you want is sold out, and you decide to choose something else, you would say, “Hona (Well Then), I order this” It has a connotation of “no other choice.” In addition, “Hona” can be used to deliver a conclusion. At the end of a meeting, for instance, the leader might start with “Hona (Then), this is what we will do” and announce the decision. Lastly, “Hona” also has the meaning of “See you” At the airport or train station, for instance, when people are saying goodbyes, you hear them say “Hona.” In the case of a long separation, the hearing of “Hona” usually brings people to tears.