Regular Feature

Greetings from the Outskirts of Kyoto vol.9

INOUE Shōichi (Director-General)
June 28, 2021

The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) attracts scholars of Japanese studies from all over the world. Most of them speak Japanese, and yet their various manners of speaking inevitably give away their national accent.

For example, the Japanese spoken by people from China has a kind of Chinese ring to it. And when someone is from South Korea, this too comes across. Hearing them, I’ll think, this person must be from South Korea.

It’s the same with Westerners. Ah, this person is a native French speaker. That one speaks German. I often feel this to be the case.

On a related note, once, in Boston, I offered greetings to someone in English. A locally based Japanese person who overheard this exchange observed to me, “You’re from Kansai, I see.”

It came as a shock. I’d spoken in English, you see. And yet my Kansai background came across. Did my English have a Kansai accent? I admit it has a Japanese accent. And yet… that person could tell that I was from Kansai.