I'm somewhat informed on gendered speech in Japanese, however, I have also heard that age may play a part in which pronouns and sentence ending particles you use and can get away with. For instance, a teenage boy is more likely to get away with using slightly effeminate language than a grown man would be. What sort of pronouns (私, 俺, 僕, est.) and sentence ending particles (の, か, かしら, わ, よ, ぞ) would a typical elderly male use (In the standard Tokyo dialect)?


3 Answers 3


This is not really an answer, but I would like to draw the attention to the distinction between speech in fictional work and speech in the real world.

In fictional work, there is a set of words (most notably personal pronouns and function words) which are considered to be typical to a certain group of people, regardless of whether the people in the same group in the real world actually use them. It is called a role language (役割語). As dainichi explained, first-person pronoun わし and copula じゃ are part of the role language for old male speakers. So are second-person pronoun お[主]{ぬし} and the use of ~しておる instead of ~している. However, I am pretty sure that few old male people actually say any of these.

My guess is that old male speakers do not have particularly different words from other adult male speakers, but I am not very sure about this part.

  • 1
    Thanks, really helpful, especially because it was for fictional purposes.
    – crayondraw
    Feb 4, 2013 at 22:51
  • お主 = おしゅ, おぬし, or おあるじ?
    – istrasci
    Feb 4, 2013 at 23:18
  • 1
    @istrasci: It is read as おぬし. I added the ruby. Feb 4, 2013 at 23:22
  • I think old speakers from Kansai might use some of those (but I don't think they'd say お主).
    – Angelos
    Aug 1, 2015 at 1:09

That depends on age, dialect, personal preferences etc. But a very stereotypical way would be to use わし as first person singular personal pronoun and じゃ as copula.

  • Someone once told me that this is just 広島弁. Do old guys just stereotypically come from Hiroshima or is it just a coincidence? The kids in Barefoot Gen talk like this anyway.
    – ssb
    Feb 4, 2013 at 4:57
  • 1
    @ssb, Wikipedia (ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%BD%B9%E5%89%B2%E8%AA%9E) mentions that it is similar to Hiroshima-ben, but might have different roots. I've also seen a theory that it comes from the way 長州藩 guys spoke in the Meiji/Taisho eras when they had a lot of power. In either case, the stylized version usually doesn't have other Hiroshima-ben traits, like けん or けえ instead of (conjunctive) から.
    – dainichi
    Feb 5, 2013 at 0:09

I think old men are more likely to use だい in place of sentence-final , or かい for sentence-final .

  • 2
    I do not recognize だい or かい as typical sentence endings for old male speakers. On the contrary, だい is used as 役割語 for young boys such as “もっと遊ぶんだい!” However, the fact that it is a 役割語 for young boys may not necessarily reflect the reality, and it does not necessarily mean that だい is not used by old male speakers. Feb 4, 2013 at 19:16
  • Hmm, interesting.
    – istrasci
    Feb 4, 2013 at 19:26
  • @TsuyoshiIto, are you sure about that? My image of だい and かい is more that it's a way for (possibly elderly) adults to speak to children to "soften" the tone. "坊や、もっと遊びたいのかい?" "うん、遊びたいっ!"
    – dainichi
    Feb 5, 2013 at 0:16
  • 1
    @dainichi: Particles だい and かい are indeed used at the end of questions stated in an intimate or patronizing way (such as 何をしているんだい), but they are not associated with old people, either. (I was not thinking of this use of だい when I wrote the previous comment.) Feb 5, 2013 at 0:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.