Shuddup!

The other day, a girl in one of my classes exclaimed: “Sahshii!”, which caused another girl to make a quizzical look and ask, “What on earth does that mean?” With half of the class coming from outside Fukuoka Prefecture, this sort of thing happens from time to time: one of the girls will speak in the dialect she has grown up only to be greeted with either blank stares or derisive laughter.

“Sahshii!” means urusai (煩い, 五月蝿い, literally “May flies”), which is standard Japanese for “noisy”, “troublesome”, or “persistent”. Another common word is yakamashii (喧しい) can also mean “noisy”, as well as “up in arms” and “raising a clamor” or “strict” and “finicky, picky”. Lucky for my students, I am neither urusai or yakamashii. I wish I could say the same about them.

A note about the following: while some prefectures may use the same word or phrase, the way they say it will vary greatly due to the altered intonation.

Rakuten.jpg

  Hokkaidô

1. Hokkaidô

   やがましい!

   Yagamashii!

 

  Tôhoku

2. Aomori

   さしね!

   Sashine!

3. Iwate

   やがまし!

   Yagamashi!

4. Miyage

   すんずねぇ!

   Sunzuneh!

5. Akita

   やがまし!

   Yagamashi!

6. Yamagata

   うるせえ!

   Uruseh!

7. Fukushima

   うっしゃし!

   Usshashi!

 

Chiba Lotte.jpg

  Kantô

8. Ibaraki

   うっせえ!

   Usseh!

9. Tochigi

   うるせー!

   Uruseeh!

10. Gunma

   うるせー!

   Uruseeh!

11. Saitama

   うるせー!

   Uruseeh!

12. Chiba

   うるせ!

   Uruseh!

13. Tôkyô

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

14. Kanagawa

   そーぞーしー!

   Sôzôshî!

 

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  Chûbu

15. Niigata

   うるせぁー!

   Uruseah!

16. Toyama

   やかましー!

   Yakamasii!

17. Ishikawa

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

18. Fukui

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

19. Yamanashi

   やたかしー!

   Yatakashii!

20. Nagano

   うるせー!

   Uruseeh!

21. Gifu

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

22. Shizuoka

   うるせー!

   Uruseeh!

23. Aichi

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

 

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  Kansai

24. Mie

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

25. Shiga

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

26. Kyôto

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

27. Ôsaka

   じゃかましー!

   Jakamashii!

28. Hyôgo

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

29. Nara

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

30. Wakayama

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

 

Carp.jpg

   Chûgoku

31. Tottori

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

32. Shimane

   やかまし!

   Yakamashi!

33. Okayama

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

34. Hiroshima

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

35. Yamaguchi

   しろしー!

   Shiroshii!

 

   Shikoku

36. Tokushima

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

37. Kagawa

   やかまし!

   Yakamashi!

38. Ehime

   やかましー!

   Yakamashii!

39. Kôchi

   うるさい!

   Urusai!

 

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   Kyûshû

40. Fukuoka

   しぇからしか!

   Shekarashika!

  しゃーしー!

   Shahshii!

   しからしい!

   Shikarashii!

   しゃーしいちゃ! (筑豊)

   Shahshiicha! (in the Chikuhô region)

41. Saga

   しぇからしか!

   Shekarashika!

   やぐらしい!

Yagurashii!

42. Nagasaki

   せからしか!

   Sekarashika!

   やぐらしか!

   Yagurashika!

   やかまっさよ!  (五島)

   Yakamassayo!  (Gotô Islands)

43. Kumamoto

   せからしか!

   Sekarashika!

44. Ôita

   せせかましー!

   Sesekamashii!

   うるせーっちゃ!

   Uruseehcha!

45. Miyazaki

   せからしい!

   Sekarashii!

   せわし!

   Sewashi!

46. Kagoshima

   やぞろし!

   Yazoroshi!

   やぜろしい!

   Yazeroshii!

 

  Okinawa

47. Okinawa

   かしまさん!

   Kashimasan!

For the First Time in Hakata

It was bound to happen sooner or later: a version of "For the First Time in Forever" from Disney's "Frozen" sung in the Hakata dialect.

The video was done so well that it spawned a number of copycats, including one in the Kansai dialect:

And in the Hachinohe dialect of Aomori:

And in the Okinawan dialect:

And in the Hiroshima dialect:

Chinsagu nu Hana

 

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An Interpretation of the Okinawan Lullaby

Shortly before my first son was born, I put together a playlist of songs from Okinawa, Amami Ōshima, Hawaii, and elsewhere in the hope that having a set of soothing tunes I liked would make lulling my baby boy to sleep more tolerable for me

Of all the songs on that playlist, the most effective at getting my son to fall back asleep—he’s often out by the third verse—has been the warabi-uta, or Okinawan children’s song, “Chinsagu nu Hana”, sung by the sublime Rimi Natsukawa in one of the Ryūkyūan dialects, known broadly as Uchinaa-guchi.

Although “Chinsagu nu Hana” is a well-known song, the lyrics make it all but unintelligible for the average Japanese listener. Whenever Natsukawa performs the song on TV, subtitles in standard Japanese, or Hyōjungo, must be provided.

A word about the title of the song. Chinsagu nu Hana is Ryūkyūan for balsam flowers, or hōsenka in standard Japanese. Chinsagu (天咲) literally means “the flower that blooms in heaven” (ten ni saku hana, 天に咲く花). In olden times, children in Okinawa would squeeze the sap from balsam flowers to stain their fingernails as a way of warding off evil. The word uya (親, oya, or “parents”), which is often repeated in the song, does not refer to one’s mother and father, but rather all of one’s ancestors since the “age of the gods”, that is from the beginning of time.

While the song is said to contain some ten verses, the version I provide below continues until only the sixth verse. The lyrics of the song convey Confucian teachings, with the first three stanzas related to filial piety, the latter three to respecting one’s body and goals. Each verse contains the exact same number of syllables (8, 8, 8, 6) using language and meter devices that are unique to Okinawa. The lyrics have been translated fairly literally into English to preserve the meaning of the original.

 

てぃんさぐぬ花

Chinsagu nu Hana

The Balsam Flower

 

1 

てぃんさぐぬ花や

爪先(チミサチ)に染(ス)みてぃ

親(ウヤ)ぬゆし事(グトゥ)や

肝(チム)に染(ス)みり

 

(Romanization)

Chinsagu nu hana ya

Chimisachi ni sumichi

Uya nu yushi gutu ya

Chimu ni sumiri.

 

(Standard Japanese)

ホウセンカの花は

(魔除けとして)爪先に染めなさい

親の言うことは、

心に染めなさい

 

(Romanization)

Hōsenka no hana wa

(Mayoke toshite) tsumisaki ni somenasai

Oya no iu koto wa, kokoro ni somenasai.

 

(English Translation)

Dye your fingernails with the pigment of the balsam flower,

Dye your heart with your parents’ words.

 

 

2

天(ティン)ぬ群星(ムリブシ)や

読(ユ)みば読(ユ)まりゆい

親(ウヤ)ぬゆし言(グトゥ)や

読(ユ)みやならん

 

(Romanization)

Chin nuburi bushi ya,

Yumiba yuma riyui.

Uyanu yushigutu ya,

Yumiyanaran

 

(Standard Japanese)

天の群星は

数えようと思えば、数えきれるけど、

親の言うことは、

数えられない

(それほど親の教えは限りがない)

 

(Romanization)

Kazoeyō to omoeba,

Kazoekirerukedo,

Oya no iukoto wa,

kazoerarenai.

(Sore hodo oya no oshie wa kagiri ga nai)

 

(English Translation)

Though you can count the stars in the sky if you wanted to, 

You cannot count the teachings of your parents.

 

 

3 

夜(ユル)走(ハ)らす舟(フニ)や

子(ニ)ぬ方星(ファブシ)見当(ミア)てぃ

我(ワ)ん生(ナ)ちぇる親(ウヤ)や

我(ワ)んどぅ見当(ミア)てぃ

 

(Romanization)

Yuru harasu funi ya,

Ninu fabushi miachi

Wannacheru uyaya,

Wandu miachi.

 

(Standard Japanese)

夜、沖に出る舟は

北極星が目当て、

私を産んでくれた親は

私が目当て(私を見守っている)

 

(Romanization)

Yoru, oki ni deru fune wa

Hokkyokusei ga meate

Watashi wo undekureta oya wa

Watashi ga meate (watashi wo mimamotteiru).

 

(English Translation)

The ships that sail at night are guided by the North Star,

I am guided by my parents who gave birth to and watch over me.

 

 

4

宝玉(タカラダマ)やてぃん

磨(ミガ)かにば錆(サビ)す

朝夕(アサユ)肝(チム)磨(ミガ)ち

浮世(ウチユ)渡(ワタ)ら

 

(Romanization)

Takaradama yachin,

Migakaniba sabisu

Asayu chimu migachi,

Uchiyu watara.

 

(Standard Japanese)

宝石も

磨かなくては錆びてしまう

朝晩心を磨いて、

世の中を生きていこう。

 

(Romanization)

Hōsekimo

Kagayakanakute wa sabiteshimau,

Asayoru kokoro wo migaite

Yo no naka wo ikiteikou.

 

(English Translation)

Even jewelry will rust unless polished,

Polishing my spirit night and day, 

I traverse this transient world.

 

 

5

誠(マクトゥ)する人(ヒトゥ)や

後(アトゥ)や何時(イチ)迄(マディ)ん

思事(ウムクトゥ)ん叶(カナ)てぃ

千代(チユ)ぬ栄(サカ)い

 

(Romanization)

Makutu suru hitu ya,

Atuya ichi madin.

Umukutun kanachi,

Chiyu nu sakai.

 

(Standard Japanese)

誠実に生きる人は

後はいついつまでも、

願いごともすべて叶い

永遠に栄えるのです。

 

(Romanization)

Seijitsu ni ikiru hito wa

Ato wa itsu itsu made mo

Negai-goto mo subete kanai

 

(English Translation)

All the wishes of those who live honestly will,

Be realized and they will prosper forever.

 

 

6 

なしば何事(ナングトゥ)ん

なゆる事(クトゥ)やしが

なさぬ故(ユイ)からどぅ

ならぬ定(サダ)み

 

(Romanization)

Nashiba nan gutun,

Nayuru gutu yashiga,

Nasanu yui karadu,

Naranu sadami.

 

(Standard Japanese)

成せば何事も

成ることであるが、

成さぬ故に

成らないのだ

 

(Romanization)

Naseba nanigoto mo

Naru-koto de aru ga

Nasanu yueni

Naranai no da.

 

(English Translation)

You can do anything if you put your mind to it,

But you can’t if you never try.


A few clues for pronouncing/interpreting the Okinawan dialect that one may glean from this and other Okinawan songs include:

ぬ (nu) is the possessive の (no).

や (ya) is the subject marker は (wa, as in watashi-wa).

て (te) becomes てぃ (chi);

お (o) is usually pronounced う (u), and similarly よ (yo) becomes ゆ (yu). Likewise, 事 (こと, koto) is グトゥ (gutu), and 夜 (yoru) is read ゆる (yuru).

“K” is often pronounced “g”, such that Tensaku becomes Chinsagu; and “koto”, as we have already seen above, becomes “gutu”.

Interestingly, the Okinawan word for the Polaris (North Star) is 方星 (ファブシ, fabushi), with the “o” in “boshi” again becoming “u” here, bushi. What is remarkable about the word is the first character 方. In standard Japanese, it is pronounced hō or kata/gata, but in the dialect used in the lullaby it is “fa”, which is closer to the way the character is read in Chinese, fang. This may be a vestige of the days when the Ryūkyū Kingdom traded extensively with China and countries of southeast Asia.

Wan (わん) is the customary way to refer to oneself not only in Okinawa but also in Amami Ōshima.  (わー) is also fairly common. The pronoun changes depending upon whether it is singular or plural or what article follows it:

 

私が   Wanga   (わんが), or Wāga(わーが), used when “I” is the subject of a clause

私たち   Wattā   (わったー), plural form of “Wan

私は   Wanya   (わんや), or Wannē(わんねー), when “I” is the subject of a sentence

私も   Wannin   (わんにん), or Wānin (わーにん), meaning “I, too”

私の   Wannu   (わんぬ), or Wānu (わーぬ), meaning “my”

私には  Wangā   (わんがー), or Wāgā (わーがー), meaning “toward or as for me”

 

Finally, the conditional form, which is usually formed by taking the root verb and adding 〜えば (〜eba), such as すれば (sureba, if you do), 読めば (yomeba, if you read), 磨けば (migakeba, if you polish) becomes, すりば (-suriba), ゆみば (-yumiba), みがかにば (-migakiba), respectively. That is, 〜えば (〜eba) becomes 〜いば (〜iba).