I feel like I hear だべ all the time (through TV and on the streets of Yokohama where I live), but I'm wondering about it's origins and modern usage.

  • 3
    The title and your question seem to be slightly different.
    – user458
    Aug 24 '11 at 21:21
  • ah but they are intrinsically linked. What it meant in one time and location and what it means in modern times and locations is all related to dialect, I feel.
    – Claytonian
    Aug 24 '11 at 22:38
  • 1
    I can tell you that the origin is classical Japanese べし (or some common predecessor), but I'd be interested to read a history showing how we got from there to modern べ (which is why I got the easy part out of the way in a comment).
    – Matt
    Aug 25 '11 at 4:46

It's Tohoku dialect.

Basically, だべ is だろう, 行ぐべ is 行こう. There are a lot of variations though, as you can say for example だすっぺ for でしょう.

I doubt though that your hear that a lot on TV, except during interviews of people who suffers from the tsunami or nuclear accident. And it would be subtitled anyway…

Edit: Ok, so it seems that だべ is in fact an "coastal" ending. This is why your heard it in Yokohama, while in didn't where I lived. It's used all along the Pacific coast, and is thus not restricted to Tôhoku. I do not know, though, if they use べ without だ as in the examples I gave.

  • 3
    To be precise, it's Tōhoku and Kantō dialect (they even call our accent/us "Kantō-bei"! classic West/East divide thing), but it has definitely suffered a blow in the Tokyo region due to the influence of 標準語 and people from other prefectures. Still a thing in the surrounding areas though, like Saitama etc.
    – Matt
    Aug 25 '11 at 4:41
  • I have lived in Kanagawa-ken too, and never heard it there… Nor in Tôkyô, even from Tôhoku people… How old are Kantô people talking with this particle?
    – Axioplase
    Aug 25 '11 at 5:24
  • In (northern) Saitama, all ages. I confess I hear it a lot less in Kanagawa, and mostly (but not entirely) from older folks. I imagine that it's probably better preserved in Tohoku because of less outside influence.
    – Matt
    Aug 25 '11 at 5:43
  • I think it's because Saitama borders Gunma, Tochigi (Ashinori-ben, not mainstream Tochigi-ben) and Ibaraki, where usage such dialect is more prominent (Gunma has だんべ). The southern part of Saitama is more similar to that of southern part of Kantō (Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa).
    – syockit
    Aug 25 '11 at 5:59
  • It's Tohoku dialect.では (Touhoku「東北」)ですか??Northern most six prefectures of Honshuの方言ですか?
    – ZarNge
    Aug 25 '11 at 7:44

I believe べ is the equivalent of the volitional in some, usually considered rural, northern dialects.

For instance, いぐべ = 行こう (with a systematic voicing thrown in for a good measure) of Miyagi-ben.

You can also see "Tohoku Dialects as a Speech of Rednecks: Language Crossing in Japanese TV Programs".

  • Nice article on crossing.
    – Axioplase
    Oct 26 '11 at 17:02

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