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When people imitate yakuza speech, what are the major things they do to make it recognizable as such?

If possible, how accurate is this compared to actual yakuza speech?

I've seen mention elsewhere on this site that there is some relationship with Hiroshima dialect - how so?

One thing I've been told is that r's should be trilled. Intonation also seems to be exaggerated. Is this so and what else is there?

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Yep, trilled R's and Hiroshima-ben, these are the ones I know. :) –  Boaz Yaniv Jun 10 '11 at 14:52
youtube.com/watch?v=A7SlA_PM7EM might have some material. It's a series of clips from the episode of Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo which focus on a Japanese language student who's a yakuza fanatic. –  Andrew Grimm Jan 21 '12 at 13:07
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1 Answer

up vote 8 down vote accepted

As you probably already read in the question on dialects, Yakuzas are often pictured speaking Hiroshima-ben on TV. According to Japanese friends, this has probably as much to do with the fact that Hiroshima-ben naturally sounds quite hard to the ear (whereas soft-spoken Kyoto-ben is the typical dialect choice for cute, feminine characters) as any real-world trend.

In reality, I'd say your average yakuza speaks a slang-heavy, ultra-masculine version of whatever his (or his clan's) native dialect is. As it happens, many yakuzas do come from Hiroshima and the West of Japan in general, so Kansai-ish accent is usually a safe bet (once again: Kansai-ben(s) tend to sound harsher and more direct than other dialects, so there's that too). Pretty sure the none-to-rare Osaka yakusa speaks exclusively osaka-ben...

As you already guessed, among obvious (possibly stereotypical) characteristics are:

1) extreme rolling of 'R's and ample exaggerated consonant gemination...

2) liberal use of profanities (このやろう、おんどれ etc.) and strong interjections (ほっっら etc.)

3) casual use of boastful/demeaning pronouns (われ、俺、きさま etc.)

But frankly, you will hear all of the above (and more) by talking to any sufficiently cocky working-class Osaka resident.

My nifty bilingual kansai-ben phrasebook has a (slightly tongue-in-cheek) "angry speech" section. Here are a couple of the more straightforward ones:

ええ加減にせぇ!【ええかげんにせぇ】→ "Enough!"

ワレ、どつきまわすど! → "I'll beat the crap out of you"

血い見るどわれぇ【ちいみるどわれぇ】→ "So you wanna see some blood?!"

クソガキがいちびりやがって!しまいにはイてまうぞ!→ "You're asking for trouble, kid!"

おんどれ、ええ根性しとるやないけ! → "You are starting to piss me off"

One more for the road?

ワレ、目ん玉ほじぐりかえすど! → "I'll rip your eyes out!"

Once again same warning applies re. real yakuza vs. average Kishiwada nomiya dweller (never faced a pissed-off yakuza, so couldn't tell you)

PS: all apologies if the above is more an overview of regular rude/harsh Kansai-ben than bona-fide Yakuza-speech, but in my limited (courteous, non-confrontational and definitely non-violent) interactions with these types, that's pretty much what they've always sounded like.

Addendum: talked some more with (Japanese) friends about this and the consensus was that there ultimately isn't any fundamental difference between "Yakusa-speech" and heavily-masculinised working-class osaka-ben (or hiroshima-ben, or whatever you pick). There are, however, a few words that are exclusively Yakuza slang, e.g.:

チャカ → gun (instead of 鉄砲【てっぽう】)

サバく → to sell (instead of 売る)

シャブ → drugs (methamphetamine)

Not to mention common terms for Yakuza hierarchy (チンピラ, おやぶん etc.) and derogative nicknames for the police: 犬【いぬ】, ポリこう etc.

Good luck placing those in everyday conversation ;-)

While googling around to double-check the above, I found this great page which is essentially the answer to your question (and more).

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+1 for linkage to a previous question and examples. AND OMG! the Kanji-box dude! Love your software :D –  Mark Hosang Jun 10 '11 at 15:28
Thanks... and thanks! Yes, that's me, but I'm here as a private civilian ;-) –  Dave Jun 10 '11 at 23:56
Isn’t that チャカ instead of シャカ? I know that チャカ is a slang for a gun, but I have never heard シャカ. (But I do not know much about yakuza-speech.) –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 12 '11 at 2:44
@Tsuyoshi: Arg! indeed, I made a typo... This is corrected now. Thanks for pointing it out! –  Dave Jun 12 '11 at 3:16
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