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Like other languages, there are regional varieties of Japanese throughout Japan. Naturally, people in Hokkaido speak with a Hokkaido accent, though it's not as distinctive and powerful as other dialects such as Kansai-ben, Nagoya-ben, and Tohoku-ben ("Ben" is "speech," referring to regional accents or dialects in this usage). For better or for worse, most unique expressions in this region, it seems to me, have become unused year by year. As for me, I usually speak standard Japanese. When it comes to the Hokkaido dialect, my wife, a Nagoya native, is now the better speaker. She sounds like a perfect bilingual, I mean, of Nagoya-ben and Hokkaido-ben.

It's interesting to hear my students speak Hokkaido dialect. Some students speak with a strong accent, others don't. Some students intentionally use it to make what they say sound funny. Yesterday, I felt amused to hear this phrase:

なしたの? (Nashita no)

It's the Hokkaido version of どうしたの (Doushita no), or "What's the matter?" Doesn't it sound plain and cool? I suddenly liked this expression.

For its variation, there is

なして? (Nashite)

Can you see it? It's どうして? (doushite), meaning "Why?" I don't know how the sound どう (dou) turned into な (na). Really, なして?

OK, everyone, repeat after me.

Na-shi-te ... Good!


It's amazing to know these facts of language. So many different languages of the world and so many dialects of each.

I find it an amazing amount of information!

To my foreign ears, it sounds like a cross between nani and doushite--which makes perfect sense in a slang kind of way.

Yes, M, that may well be so. I too feel the "na" is from "nani."

Speaking of Hokkaido dialects... I'm in Hawaii, where people have come over the years from all over Japan. One older man originally from Hokkaido is calling his little granddaughter something like "komben chare", but no one knows what he means. I wonder if this phrase rings a bell with you folks in Hokkaido? The spelling could be wildly off, it's the best we can make out.

In fact, we don't know if it is a term of endearment, or if he might be chastising her! Any help would be appreciated.



I've been thinking about what it is, and an expression "shomben tare" has come to my mind now. It sounds somewhat like "comben chare," and so I think it's probably what the man says. It is a humorous way of referring to a kid who wets the bed. The expression itself is rarely heard now, but older guys can say so. Even though it doesn't always sound good, I think he affectionately calls her so.

Hmmm... sounds like that's what it could be. Thanks so much for your reply! Now to listen more closely ....

Appreciate your help.