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 3: Grammatical Features

   In addition to accent, another prominent feature of Miyagi-ben is its grammar, which includes different particles, changes in conjugation, etc.

  1.    The particle wa (as well as ga and o) are typically dropped. Accordingly, ja (a contraction of de wa) is often reduced to de. For example, Ii-n ja nai ("Don't you think it's all right?") becomes Ii-n de ne.

  2.    The words sore ("that") and sou ("like that") are dropped and replaced by a simple n:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    N'da. Sou da. "That's right."
    N'de ne. Sou ja nai. "That's not right."
    N'de mada. Sore ja mata. "See you later."

  3.    The plain negative form of verbs (i.e., with the ending -nai) as well as so-called "i-adjectives" ending in -ai have a peculiar conjugation, as can be seen in the following examples:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Igane. Ikanai. "I'm not going."
    Iganegatta. Ikanakatta. "I didn't go."
    Iganegu natta. Ikanaku natta. "They no longer go."
    Iganekute ii. Ikanakute ii. "There's no need for you to go."
    Iganekke ne. Ikanakya nannai.¹ "I have to go."

    ¹The conversational form of Ikanakereba naranai.

       As you can see, words that follow the above pattern might be called "e-adjectives."

  4.    The word ii ("good") also has a peculiar conjugation:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    ii ii "good"
    igu ne yoku nai "not good"
    igatta yokatta "was good"
    ikute yokute (te-form)

  5.    The polite sentence endings desu and -masu are reduced to -su, while -masen becomes -in:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Ii-su yo ne. Ii desu yo ne. "Isn't that nice?"
    Igu no-su ka? Iku no desu ka? "Are you going?"
    Wagarisuta. Wakarimashita. "Understood."
    O-hayou gozarisu.² O-hayou gozaimasu. "Good morning."
    Nomiin? Nomimasen? "Would you like to drink this?"

    ²Gozarisu comes from gozarimasu, the old form of gozaimasu.

       Also, the form de gasu (opposite: de gain) is considered slightly more polite than desu (though not as polite as de gozaimasu):

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Ho de gasu. Sou desu. "That's correct."
    Ho de gain. Sou de wa arimasen. "That's not correct."

  6.    The particle be is used either like deshou/darou (used to mean "probably" or "Don't you think so?") or the verb ending -ou (used to say "Let's..." or else express one's intention):

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    N'da be na. Sou darou ne. "That's probably right, eh?"
    Nan da be? Nan darou? "I wonder what it is."
    Igu be. Ikou. "Let's go."

       Note that when be is preceded by a verb ending in -ru, the connection -ppe is used:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Keppe. (= Keru be.) Kaerou. "Let's go home."
    Dou suppe? (= Dou sure be?) Dou shiyou? "What should we do?"

       Like darou and the verb-ending -ou, be at the end of a sentence sounds very casual, so be careful when using it. More polite than be is -su pe:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Igisu pe. Ikimasho. "Let's go."
    Kerisu pe. Kaerimasho. "Let's go home."
    Ii-su pe. Ii desho. "Isn't that good?"
    Ho de gasu pe. Sou deshou. "That's probably true."

  7.    The particle -ccha is used to make a statement sound more assertive:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    N'daccha na! Sou da yo ne! "Isn't that the truth."
    Dame daccha! Dame da! "Forget it!"/"It's no good!"
    Hon de iccha. Sore de ii yo. "That'll do just fine."
    Yappeccha! Yarou yo! "Let's do it!"
    Mada aisu peccha! Mada aimashou! "Let's get together again sometime!"

  8.    The particle -ssha is used either as filler (like the particles ne and sa in standard Japanese) or as a polite way to wrap up a sentence (like desu).

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Anossha... Ano ne,.../Ano sa,... "Hey,..."
    Hon dessha,... Sore de sa,... "And so,..."
    Sossha. Sou desu. "That's right."

  9.    The particle sa is used to mean "to" or "at":

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Dogo sa igu no? Doko e iku no? "Where are you going?"
    Sogo sa appe. Soko ni aru-n daro. "Isn't it there?"

  10.    The particle ge is used for questions:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Sou ge? / Hou ge? Sou ka? "Really?"
    Ii ge? Ii ka? "Is it okay?"

  11.    The particle go da is used for emphasis:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Ii go da! Ii na! "that's great!"
    Zuibun medazu go da. Zuibun medatsu yo. "It really stands out."

  12.    The particle on is used like the Standard Japanese mon (a contraction of mono), which is also used for emphasis, though usually in a tone of protest:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    N'da on! Sou da mon! "It's true! (I'm telling you!)"
    Waganne on! Wakannai mon! "I don't know! (So leave me alone!)"

  13.    There are a number of ways to make requests in Miyagi-ben:

    (A) the verb ending -ain

       This can range from a polite request (like using the te-form of the verb plus kudasai) to a direct instruction (you can usually tell the difference from the context). It is formed by dropping the final u of the plain present tense of the verb and substituting ain (for verbs ending in a vowel + u, add a w before the ain):

    Root verb "Ain-form" Meaning
    suru surain "do"
    taberu taberain "eat"
    kuu kuwain "eat"³
    hairu herain "enter"

    ³In Standard Japanese, kuu is a colloquial word used primarily by men.

       Note that the verb kuru ("to come") does not become kurain. Instead, there are a number of irregular forms:

    Root verb "Ain-form" Meaning
    kuru gozain "come"
    " onain "
    " gain "

       Also, the word again has the same meaning as taberain and kuwain (see above).

    (B) the verb ending -sain

       This is used only with so-called "ru-verbs" like taberu and neru ("sleep"), and tends to sound more direct than -ain. It is formed by dropping the final ru of the verb and adding sain.

    Root verb "Sain-form" Meaning
    taberu tabesain "eat"
    neru nesain "go to bed"
    miru misain "see"

    (C) the verb ending -assha

       This appears not to be as common as -ain or -sain. It is formed by dropping the final u of the verb and adding assha):

    Root Verb "Assha-form" Meaning
    neru nerassha "go to bed"
    okiru ogirassha "wake up"

       Note the the "assha-form of kuru ("to come") is korassha.

    (D) kerain, kesain, kunain, or kerassha

       These are used in place of kudasai:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Kite kerain. Kite kudasai. "Please come."
    Mide kerain. Mite kudasai. "Please have a look."
    Kore kunain. Kore kudasai. "I'll have this."†
    Yatte kerassha. Yatte kudasai. "Please do it."

    †lit., "Please give this to me."

    (E) kero

       This is a very impolite way to ask for something:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Yatte kero! Yatte chôdai! "Do it!"

  14.    The verb keru means "to give." It corresponds to both ageru (giving to someone else) and kureru (someone else giving to one) in Standard Japanese. Kerain, kesain, kerassha, and kero are all forms of the verb keru (see #13 above).

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Kore kekkara. Kore agera kara. "I'm giving this to you."
    Yatte kene? Yatte kurenai? "Will you do this for me?"
    Yatte kerain. Yatte kudasai. "Please do it."
    Yatte kero! Yatte chôdai! "Do it!"

       Also, note that this keru is distinct from keru meaning "to go home" (Standard: kaeru). For example, the plain negative form of keru "to give" is kene (Standard: agenai, kurenai), while the plain negative form of keru "to go home" is kenne (Standard: kaeranai).

  15.    The word nanbo can be used to inquire about degree or extent in virtually any context:

    Miyagi-ben Standard English
    Nanbossha? Ikura desu ka? "How much is it?"
    Nanbo kiide mo dame. Nankai kiite mo dame. "No matter how many times I ask, it's no use."
    Shinchô nanbo? Shinchô nansenchi? "How tall are you?"

  16.    The suffix -ko or -kko is attached to many nouns. Examples include: umakko (uma, "horse"); o-jakko (o-cha, "(Japanese green) tea"), and imodokko (imôto, "younger sister").

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

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