I've been talking with a Japanese exchange student at my college. For 4 years I've been studying Japanese and we get along just fine most of the time but sometimes even I get a bit lost.

He's from Kobe so perhaps it's a part of his dialect.

My question is, what does「なにしてたん?」mean? The main thing that confuses me is たん.


何してたん is the same as 何していたの (that is, 'What were you/have you been doing?'). In standard Japanese, の can be contracted to ん in 何してたんだ or 何してたんですか; non-standard dialects use it more broadly.


何をしていたのですか? : Root

何をしていたの? : Drop formal ending.

何していたの? : Colloquial drop of particle.

何してたの? : Colloquial drop of syllable.

何してたん? : Lazy end turns の into ん.


It's Kansai dialect. In Kansai, we often end sentences with ん as in: 

[なにしてたん]{LLHHLH}?(なにしてたんだ?/なにしてたの?)What have you been doing?

~[しててん]{HHLL}。(~してたんだ。/~してたのよ。)I was doing ~~.

~[してんねん]{HHHLL}。(~してるんだ。/~してるのよ。)I'm doing ~~.

[なにしたん]{LLHLH}?(なにしたんだ?/なにしたの?)What did you do?

~[してん]{HLL}。(~したんだ。/~したのよ。)I did ~~.

~[すんねん]{HHLL}。(~するんだよ。/するのよ。)I'll do~~.

[知らんねん]{HHHLL}。(知らないんだ。)I don't know.

[さむいん]{HLLH}? (寒いの?)Are you cold?

[さむいねん]{HLLLL}。(寒いんだよ。/寒いのよ。)I'm cold.

[ちゃうやん]{HHHLL}。(違うじゃないか。)It's not so, is it?

[ゆうたやん]{HLLLL}。(言ったじゃないか。)I said so, didn't I?

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