Akita-ben (秋田弁), is the notoriously near-unintelligible dialect of Akita Prefecture. The older the speaker is, the more likely they are to speak to you in a language that hardly resembles standard Japanese. In fact, many Japanese from outside Akita have a difficult time understanding Akita-ben. While nothing can fully prepare you for the local dialect, here's a few rules and phrases that may help you pick it up faster.

  • Rule #1 - unvoiced consonants become voiced. "k" becomes "g", "t" becomes "d" or "z", "s" becomes "z", and so on.
  • Rule #2 - voiced consonants become prenasalized. "g" becomes "ng", "z" becomes something similar to "nz", and so on.
  • Rule #3 - The previous two rules do not apply to consonants at the beginning of a word, unless that word is preceded by a syllable that would cause it to change.
  • Rule #4 - Normally "i" sounds, it will most likely be changed to an "e"-ish sound.
  • Rule #5 - To change a verb from infinitive form to Japanese invitational ("~shimashou" = let's~) add "べ" = be to the end of the infinitive form. i.e.

Standard Japanese: 行く(iku)= 行きましょう(ikimashou) Akita-ben: いぐ(igu)= いぐべ(igube)

  • Rule #6 - The directional particle "に"(ni) will become "さ"(sa) in almost every case. However, Akita-ben speakers will not use さ in place of に when it is being used to say "for the purpose of." i.e. In the phrase 迎えに行く(mukae ni iku)= to meet/to pick up. に will not change to さ.
  • Rule #7 - There are various conjugation rules for verbs in Akita-ben. Let's use the word 行く(iku), which means "to go"
Standard Akita English
行く(iku)        いぐ(igu)         to go
行かない(ikanai)      いがねい(iganei) to not go
行かなかった(ikanakatta)    いがながったす(iganagattas) did not go
行きたい(ikitai)      いぎでい(igidei) to want to go
行きたくない(ikitakunai)    いぎだぐねい(ikidagunei)     to not want to go
  • Rule #8 - You may hear some of the people in the office greet each other in the morning, or any other time, by saying "aeushhhh", "ushhh", or even more simply, just "shhhh." This is a greeting. Feel free to try it.
  • Rule #9 - Akita-ben is EXTREMELY regional. Something that is said in Ōdate might not be understood in Yokote or Honjō. Keep this in mind when traveling to other parts of the prefecture.
  • Rule #10 - Don't get discouraged if you can't understand taxi or daikou taxi drivers, their Akita-ben is labyrinthine.

母音の発音 Native Pronunciation (listen to a native speaker)

例: うっぺ/ えっぺ  

“I” (ee) and “E” (eh) sound similar

ex: uppei/eppei

えき/ えき   eki/ iki
ひ/へ hi/ he

例: すし(すす)

“I” (ee) and “U”(ooh) sometimes sound the same

ex: sushi (susu)

地図(つぃんずぃ)  chizu (tsinzi)
土(つぃずぃ) tsuchi (tsizi)


“Ki”(kee) sounds like “k” + “s”

ex: Akita= Aksta

表現 ひょうげん  Local Expressions
んだ (そうね) “nda” = when agreeing with someone
んでね (じゃありません) “ndene”=when disagreeing with someone
んだな “ndana= agreeing (masculine )
こ・そ・あ・どえ(これ、それ、あれ、どれ) “ko”= here, “so”= there, “a”=over there
せば “seba” = see you, sayonara
まんつ (「まず」と「さようなら」) “matsu” = see you later
しかだね (しかたない) “shikadane”=too bad, can’t be helped
なげる (捨てる) “nageru” = to throw away
~だが? (~ですか?) “… daga?”= really? question
~が?・~ぎゃ?(~か?) “…ga?” “..gya?” = really? question
びょん・べ (でしょう) “byon” or “be” = affirmative
~さ (に) “sa”(instead of “ni”) = to (+ verb)
さんびすな 寒いですね It's cold
しばれだすね It's cold
腹減った I'm hungry
腹つえ I'm full

よく使われる疑問文  Questions
何した? (どうしたの?) nanshita?=what happened, what’s the matter
どさいぐ? (どこに行く?) do sa igu?= where are you going?
何く? (何を食べる?) nani ku?= what do you want to eat?
なして飲まね? (どうしで飲まない?) nanshite nomane?= Why won’t you drink?
だえ(誰)どいぐ(行く)? Dae do igu?= Who are you going with?
いづやる? (いつやりますか?) Idzu yaru?= When will you do it?

形容詞の例と生用 Adjectives
んめ (おいしい/うまい) “nme”= delicious, yum
んめぐね (おいしくない/うまくない) “nmegune”= tastes awful
さんび   (寒い) “sanbi”= cold (temperature)
あっち  (暑い) “achi”= hot
しゃっけ、しゃこい(冷たい) “shakke” or “shakkoi” = cold (for food and drinks)
たげ   (高い) “tage”= tall, high, expensive
やし  (安い) “yaszhi”= cheap
おっき  (大きい) “oggi” = big, large
ちっちぇ (小さい) “chiche” = small, tiny
すんげい (すごい) “sungei” = great,wow
しょっぺい (しょっぱい) “shoppei” = salty
あんめ (あまい) “anmei” = amai
にんげい (にがい) “ningei” = bitter
つえい (つよい) “tsuei" = strong
ようぇい (よわい) “yowei” = weak
やんべい (やばい) “yanbei" = dangerous,strict

動詞の例と生用 Verbs
く (食べる) “ku” = eat (instead of “taberu”)
け (食べてください) “ke” = please eat (instead of “tabete kudasai”)
こ (食べましょう) “ko” = let's eat (instead of “tabemashou”)
待づ “madzu”= wait (instead of “matsu”)
立づ “tadzu”= stand (instead of “tatsu”)
聞ぐ “kigu”= listen, hear (instead of “kiku”)
歩ぐ “arugu”= walk (instead of “aruku”)
行ぐ “igu”= go, leave (instead of “iku”)

See also

Japanese Language • 日本語
Language Resources Akita-ben • Useful Japanese • Textbook reviews • Resources for Learning Japanese • Heisig Method
Japanese Courses August Intensive Japanese Course • Local Japanese Classes
Other Info Proficiency tests • Language and culture