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I was watching My Boss My Hero, and I could have sworn he said わかね instead of わからない. Is this feasible? Is there some dialect that drops off ない for ね?

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  • Could you write the whole phrase as an example?
    – user3169
    Oct 10, 2013 at 1:00
  • This happens a lot in anime & manga. It makes a (usually male) character sound more masculine, tough, flippant, or gangsta'. The main character in My Boss My Hero is from a Yakuza family, so this style of speech establishes his background.
    – AHelps
    Oct 11, 2013 at 20:10

2 Answers 2

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It's fairly common for both ai and ae to be slurred to ee in colloquial speech.

For example:

  • じゃない → じゃねぇ   janai → janee
  • のみたい → のみてぇ   nomitai → nomitee
  • おまえ  → おめぇ    omae → omee
  • てまえ  → てめぇ    temae → temee

Your example has an additional contraction. When a vowel is dropped between r and n, you end up with rn. This isn't pronounceable, so it assimilates to nn.

  • わからない → わかんない   wakaranai → *wakarnai → wakaNnai

Then this undergoes the other contraction we already talked about:

  • わかんない → わかんねぇ   wakaNnai → wakaNnee

Japanese is somewhat sensitive to length, so that doesn't drop out very easily, and the vowel at the end tends to stay long. It's possible that they were both shortened, but without hearing it, my guess is that it was わかんねぇ and not わかね.

As for where this happens, I have to admit I'm no expert on dialects. But as I understand it, it's fairly widespread. I've read that it happens in and around Tōkyō, and I know it happens in other parts of the Kantō area as well. To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened all over Japan. (But the charts I found only mentioned the Kantō area.)

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Changing ない to ね is routine in several dialects. So you'll hear things like 知らね instead of 知らない, or やらね instead of やらない.

Additionally, the character probably said わかんね, not わかね. ら and る will sometimes be rendered as ん when followed by な行 mora such as な, ね, or の. So you'll hear things like つまんね (instead of つまらない - つまんない is, of course, also used), どうすんの (どうするの), or なにしてんの (なにしてるの).

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    It's not really a dialect. More like casual male speech thing. Oct 10, 2013 at 1:29
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    It is a dialectal feature, especially in the various Tohoku dialects. But you are correct in saying that in some areas, it's a masculine speech pattern. Oct 10, 2013 at 3:32

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