Tsugaru-ben (津軽弁)

Tsugaru-ben is the local dialect spoken in the Tsugaru region of Western Aomori. Aomori Prefecture is unique in that there isn’t just one dialect for the whole prefecture, but in fact there are three well known dialects: Shimokita-ben (下北弁), Nanbu-ben(南部弁), and Tsugaru-ben(津軽弁) . Tsugaru-ben is probably the most famous dialect of the three.

Tsugaru-ben is so divergent from standard Japanese that even people within the same prefecture have a hard time understanding it. I can definitely attest to this. Tsugaru-ben is so different from standard Japanese, it is hard to believe they are really even the same language. Actually one of my Japanese friends who practically only uses Tsugaru-ben mentioned a story when she traveled to Kyoto. When she went to take a taxi, the taxi driver switched to English because he thought she was speaking a foreign language!

Before moving to Japan I had a lot of anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to communicate to people at all in Hirosaki. However, this is not really the case, since now a days there isn’t as much Tsugaru-ben spoken by younger generations. Mostly the elderly and small children use it. But there are definitely going to be times when you speak to people and have no idea what they are saying to you.

In my case, I work on Mt. Iwaki so my students tend to come from apple and corn (嶽きみ) farmers who all use Tsugaru-ben. Most of my coworkers only use Tsugaru-ben. At first I couldn’t understand a lick of what people were saying to me, but gradually I got use to it. Pretty much to the point where I can understand standard Japanese. I even know some words only in Tsugaru-ben, which makes my Japanese friends from outside of Aomori laugh. Honestly, at this point standard Japanese has started to sound funny to me.

All in all, Aomori is blossoming with so much linguistic diversity and I love it. I’m not saying that other prefectures in Japan lack linguistic diversity, it’s just so fascinating that these dialects are hardly even mutually intelligible and they are in such close proximity to each other.

So, let’s learn some Tsugaru-ben together~~~

Tsugaru-ben (津軽弁)Standard Japanese (標準語)English (英語)
あぐど (agudo)かかと (kakato)heel
あさぐ (asagu)歩く (aruku)walk
あずましい (azumashii)気持ちいい (kimochi ii)good feeling
いだわし (idawashi)もったいない (mottainai)to good; more than one deserves; unworthy of…; wasteful
うるだぐ (urudagu)慌てる (awateru)to become confused; to be flustered; to panic
えへる (eheru)すねる (suneru)to sulk; to pout
おける (okeru)転ぶ (korobu)to fall down
おべだふり (obedafuri)知ったかぶり (shittakaburi)pretending to know
かっちゃぐ (kacchagu)ひっかく(hikkaku)to scratch; to claw
かまり (kamari)匂い (inoi)odor; scent; smell
きくらんへき (kikuranheki)ぎっくり腰 (gikkurugoshi)strained back
ぎっつ (gittsu)キリギリス (kirigirisu)Japanese katydid
きみ (kimi)とうもろこし (toumorokoshi)corn
くんびまぎ (kunbimagi)マフラー (mafuraa)scarf
けっぱる (kepparu)頑張る (ganbaru)work hard; do your best
けやぐ (keyagu)友達 (tomodachi)friend
こそらっと (kosoratto)こっそりと (kossorito) stealthily; secretly
ごんぼほる (gonboharu)だだをこねる (dada wo koneru)to throw a tantrum; to whine
さがし (sagashi)かしこい (kashikoi)wise, clever, smart
しがま (shigama)つらら (urara)icicle
しばれる (shibareru)凍てつく (itetsuku)to freeze
じゃわめぐ (jawamegu)寒気がする (kanki ga suru)chill; the shivers; shivering fit
じゃんぼ (jyanbo)髪 (kami)hair
じょっぱり (jyoppari)がんこ (ganko)stubborn
ただでね (tadadene)尋常でない (jinjyoudenai)unusual; uncommon
おっこね (okkone)怖い (kowai)scary
たなぐ (tanagu)かつぐ (katsugu)to carry on one’s shoulder
だらっこ (darakko)小銭 (kozeni)small change; coins
だんぶり (danburi)とんぼ (tonbo)dragon fly
ちゃっけ (chakke)小さい (chiisai)small
ちょぺっと (chopetto)ちょっと (chotto)a little
つけらっと (tsukeratto)けろりと (kerorito)completely; entirely
てぎ (tegi)おっくう (okku)troublesome; bothersome
ではる (deharu)出て行く(dete iku)to go out
どってん (dotten)びっくり(bikkuri)surprised
どんず (donzu)お尻 (oshiri)butt
な (na)あなた (anata)you (can be used more freely than あなた)
ながけり (nagakeri)ながくつ (nagakutsu)long distance
なこなこしい (nakonakoshi)和やかに (nagoyakani)mild;clam; gentle
なへ (nahe)なぜ (naze)because
にぐらっと (niguratto)にやにやと (niyaniyato)grinning
ぬぐだまる (negudamaru)あたたまる (atatamaru)to warm oneself
ねぷりかげ (neburikage)居眠り(inemuri)nodding off
ねまる (nemaru)座る (suwaru)sit
のそらっと (nosoratto)たくさん (takusan)many
のれそれ (norezore)とても (totemo)very
ばしらぐ (bashiragu)騒ぐ (sawagu)noisy
はんかくせ(hankakuse)ばかみたい (bakamitai)to act like a fool
びっき (bikki)カエル (kaeru)frog
ふとじ (futoji)おなじ (onaji)same
へづね (hedune)つらい (tsurai)painful; bitter
へなが (henaga)背中 (senaka)back
べろっと (berotto)いきなり (ikinari)suddenly
まぐぁ (magua)メロン (meron)melon
まっこ (makko)お年玉 (otoshidama)New Years gift
め (me)美味しい (oishii)delicious
めんこい (menkoi)かわいい (kawaii)cute
もちょくちぇ (mochokuche)くすぐったい (kusuguttai)tickilish
やっこい (yakkoi)やわらかい (yawarakai)soft
やめる (yameru)痛む (itamu)to feel pain
ゆったど (yuttado)ゆったりと (yuttarito)comfortable; easy
わ (wa)私 (watashi)I

Here are some examples of Tsugaru-ben in a sentence:

1.) わいー、めんこいわんこだじゃ (waiiiii, menkoi wankodaja) “Wahhhhhhhhh, a cute puppy!!!”

2.) わいは、どってんしたじゃ (waiha, dottenshitaja) “Wow, you surprised me” (surprised is more like scared…if someone jumped out at you, you’d say “oh you sacred me”, but in Japanese it’s more like I was surprised.)

3.) どんず、重でな~ (donzu, omoidena~) “my butt is so heavy” I’m guessing this is something you say when you don’t want to stand up after sitting for awhile.

4.)ストーブでぬぐだまりへ (sutobu de nugudamarihe) “warm up by the stove”

5.)まあ、こごさねまりなさい (maa, kogosa sanemarinasai) “well, please sit here”

6.) 新幹線はのれそれは(速)えな~ (shinkansen ha nozore ha (haya) ena~) “the shinkansen is very fast”

7.) そごの女子、ばしらぐな!(sogo no onnako, bashiraguna) “That girl over there is so noisy”

8.)古し池びっき飛び込む水の音 (furushi ike bikki tobikomu mizu no oto) “old pond, frog leaps in, water sound” This is a play on Matsuo Basho’s frog haiku, except they changed the word frog, カエル (kaeru) to びっき (bikki).

9.)べろっと車、ではってきた (berotto kuruma, dehattekita) “Suddenly, a car came out of nowhere”

10.)これけ(食)ばめびょん (koreke (shoku) bamebyon) “This food is delicious”

11.) このまくら、ずんぶやっこいな (kono makura, zunbuyakkona) “This pillow is so soft”

12.)虫歯、やめでまった (mushiba, yamedematta) “This cavity really hurts!”

13.) のそらっと雪積もってら (nosoratto yuki tsumottera) “A lot of snow piled up”

14.)こらっ、ねぷりかげすな (kora, nepurikagesuna) “I’m really nodding off”

15.)朝起ぎるの、てぎでまね (asao giru no, tegidemane) “Getting up in the morning is such a bother”

津軽弁の勉強、けっぱれー!!

Image result for tsugaru ben

Useful Links

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s