Part 1: Preface   Part 2: Accent   Part 3: Grammatical Features   Part 4: Vocabulary

[Editor's note: I make no claim to have written the following material. Everything below is the work of Mr. Ben Rosenthal, a former Miyagi-ken JET. I have edited his paper somewhat for better grammar and style, but the words below are virtually identical to those in his essay, both in content and meaning.]

Part 2: Accent

   Many Miyagi-ites, especially older people and people living outside Sendai, have a discernible accent. The following patterns are typical of such accents:

  1.    Normally voiceless consonants become voiced. For example, iku ("to go") becomes igu; mata ("again") becomes mada; uchi ("home") becomes uji; and itsu ("when") becomes izu. Although this happens mostly with consonants in the middle of words, it also happens with consonants at the beginning of some words, especially short words. For example: the question particle ka becomes ga, kara ("because") becomes gara and the particle to ("and," "with," etc.) becomes do.

    N.B.: This rule does have one major exception: p does not become b. In fact, the reverse tends to be true. For example, ke-tobasu ("kick away") becomes ke-toppasu.

  2.    The vowel i is pronounced like u, especially in the syllables shi, ji, and chi (which become su, zu, and tsu, respectively). For example, the -shii ending of adjectives like subarashii ("wonderful") becomes -sui (i.e., subarasui); sushi becomes susu; jibun ("oneself") becomes zubun; aji ("flavor") becomes azu; and ichi becomes itsu.
       In fact, not only ji, but shi and chi as well can become zu (which is why people from Miyagi and other parts of north-eastern Japan are said to speak Zuzu-ben.) For example, sushi and ichi can also be pronounced suzu and izu, respectively. Also, the greeting Konnichi wa ("Hello") becomes Konnuzu wa.

  3.    The diphthongs ai and ae are pronounced e. For example, nai ("none") becomes ne; ikanai ("to not go") becomes igane; itai ("ouch!" or "it hurts"> becomes ide; kaeru ("go home") becomes keru.

  4.    The vowel e becomes i. For example, taberu ("eat") becomes tabiru; kesu ("erase," "extinguish") becomes kisu; sensei ("teacher") becomes shinshi.

  5.    When syllables beginning with r are followed by a syllable beginning with a consonant, the two are linked in one of three ways:

    1. The r-syllable is reduced to n [e.g.: Sore de ("Then,...") becomes Son de].
    2. The r-syllable is dropped and the consonant of the second syllable is doubled [e.g.: wakaranai ("to not understand") becomes waganne; Yatte miru ka ("Shall we give it a try?") becomes Yatte mikka].
    3. The r-syllable is reduced to i [e.g.: taberarenai ("cannot eat") becomes taberaine].

  6.    An extra n is added where there normally would not be one. For example, jibun ("oneself") can be pronounced as not only zubun but also zunbun; aji ("flavor") can be pronounced not only as azu but also anzu.

  7.    The consonant s at the beginning of a word is replaced by an h. Compare the following:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    A, hou na no? A, sou na no? "Oh, really?"
    Hon de ii. Sore de ii. "That's good."/"That'll do."
    hosute soshite "and"; "then"
    Happari waganne. Sappari wakaranai. "I don't understand at all."

  8.    The syllables hi and ki become shi and chi, respectively. For example, hidari ("left") becomes shidari; kita ("north") becomes chita.

  9.    The consonant m becomes b. For example, samui ("cold") becomes sabui.

Part 1: Preface   Part 2: Accent   Part 3: Grammatical Features   Part 4: Vocabulary

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