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I remember reading that there is a dialect in which older men refer to themselves as あたし. It didn't have a feminine connotation, it may have even been a bit rough.

I think I read it on Wikipedia, but being as I can't find it now, I wonder if it was a prank edit. I'm also pretty sure it was a Honshu dialect.

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Google suggests that there are some older men who use あたし, and that it was a common personal pronoun for tradesmen in the Edo era. Can't find any solid references, though. –  Amanda S Jun 11 '11 at 9:00
    
Your tip lead me to a few hits, I put it in an answer below. –  Louis Jun 11 '11 at 13:33
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3 Answers

No. Older men might use わし, but men don't use あたし. Maybe if they are homosexuals (like Tanoshingo) and even then, it would be to joke around, I think.

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The term “homosexual” describes a sexual orientation (attracted to the same sex or gender). Are you sure that you are really talking about the sexual orientation? I am afraid that you might be confusing effeminate men with homosexual men. Effeminate men are not necessarily homosexual, and homosexual men are not necessarily effeminate. –  Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 11 '11 at 13:14
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I never heard that あたし is used as regional dialect, but old men from Rakugo-ka (落語家) sometimes use it. If I remember correctly, Hayashiya Kikuou (林家木久扇) from Shou-ten (笑点) uses it.

Note: rakugo-ka are a group of people who do rakugo, a kind of comedian talk show. One of the definitions at the Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions "dialect" as "a variety of a language used by the members of a group", so that could be a kind of dialect. But the Japanese Wikipedia definition of dialect, 方言, only mentioned regional dialect as dialect. (I didn't read the details of it, so I could be wrong.)

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If people from a certain place use it, then it is by definition dialectical, isn't it? –  Kef Schecter Jun 11 '11 at 4:51
    
@Kef, Immm, Rakugo-ka is not a place, but group of people who do rakugo 落語, some kind of comedy talk show. But I don't know exact definition of dialect in English, trying to figure out... –  YOU Jun 11 '11 at 4:54
    
@Kef, looks like you're right, Dialect refers to "a particular group of the language's speakers", so it does not say about the place, but japanese definition of 方言 says that kind of particular place. –  YOU Jun 11 '11 at 5:09
    
@YOU: the term for a dialect used by a group of people which is not related by living in the same locality is sociolect. Sometimes the term jargon is used when referring to a sociolect used a by a professional group, but for many people this term just implies a list of professional terms (e.g. IT jargon which has all these three-letter computer acronyms :)). –  Boaz Yaniv Jun 11 '11 at 11:26
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I mean that あたし was common for men in a the Edo dialect-sociolect (since it combines both region and social class) used by artisans and merchants. At least that's what Wikipedia says, I haven't been there at that time. :D Since much of the classical Edo-style rakugo represents the merchant and artisan classes, it's only natural that at least some rakugoka will try to speak like a member of that particular class in Edo period. –  Boaz Yaniv Jun 11 '11 at 11:39
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Looks like the reason I couldn't find it was because someone recently rewrote the Tokyo dialect article on Wikipedia (by chance the old page was still cached and served to me!). It said, "Atashi is a feminine first person in standard Japanese, but in Shitamachi dialect, it is often used by both men and women."

Sorry if I threw anyone off by limiting it to older men. I think my brain just associates Shitamachi with older people (maybe because of this).

I also found this goo question which was answered with 「あたし」は男女問わず東京弁です。特に男が使うのが下町の特徴です。 (Forgive the translation: Tokyo-ben's atashi isn't connected to gender. In particular, it's a trait of the Shitamachi men who use it.)

Unfortunately, the Wiki wasn't well sourced, and well the goo site isn't definitive either.

By the way, I found a few links that agree with what YOU said about being used by rakugo professionals.

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