I have encountered a number of passages with 〜けん in 佐賀のがばいばあちゃん. I'm not quite sure what it means exactly. I've seen instances where it appears to mean から and others where it appears to mean けど. I'm not sure if my interpretation is correct or not.

The following are some examples.


p. 94, ch. 7

"I want to go [there] but I don't have any money"?



p. 28, ch. 2

"From tomorrow you'll be cooking your own meals, so watch carefully"?



p. 57, ch. 4

"I'm sorry, sir. Actually, it wasn't spiny lobster; it was crayfish. I told this boy it was spiny lobster, though..."?


If someone could clarify the meaning of けん, that would be very helpful. Thanks!


3 Answers 3


けん and its variants are widely used in the western/southern parts of Japan including Kyushu. I grew up in an area in Shikoku where けん only meant "~から (because)". Your last two examples look easy and straightforward to me because these けん obviously mean "because".

  • 明日から、昭広がごはんをたくんやけん、よう見ときんしゃい。
    Akihiro, because you're going to cook rice from tomorrow, you must watch carefully.
  • 私がこの子に、伊勢エビて言うてたけん...
    Coz I was telling him it's an 伊勢エビ...

However I was not familiar with the usage of けん in your first example, where けん seems to mean "although".

  • そりゃ行きたいけん、お金がなかと。
    Of course I want to go, but I have no money.

I've found articles that say at least in 宮崎弁, けん is used similarly to ~けど (source 1, source 2).

はらへったけん めしがねえわ

佐賀 is not far away from 宮崎, so けん may also mean けど in 佐賀弁.

  • That seems convincing to me. Thanks for the research!
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:17
  • @naruto, any ideas how this けん developed? から is historically a derivation from 柄【から】. I struggle to imagine how けん might derive from から as phonetic shift, which leads me to think it must be from a different root. (Though perhaps I should post this as a separate question thread...) Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 15:58

A number of online sources (1, 2, 3, 4) all say that けん is a rough equivalent to から; I found no mention of a けど-like meaning (ばってん should be closer to けど). I think your けど examples can plausibly be reframed as から:


“I'd like to go over there, so don't you have some cash?”


“It's because I told him that it was lobster… (that he made a mistake).”

I can't tell whether that make sense without more context, but you can look at the original text and try to see whether you can interpret the sentences as から.

  • 1
    I'm not sure the first sentence makes sense. The protagonist is dirt poor and his companions seem dubious when he suggests buying candy at the candy shop.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:16
  • If it doesn't make sense in-context, naruto's answer must be right. Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:24

Dictionary says:

言い切りの形に付いて、理由・原因を表す。ゆえに。から。 〔現在でも中国・四国・九州地方で用いるところがある〕

It's a well known 方言 word (繋辞/copula?).

  • Ok, so it's for giving a reason, cause when you're asserting something. (I'm translating the Japanese). It replaces ゆえに and から? I'm not sure if that covers the first example, though.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:32
  • I'm not sure... because I'm not familiar with the exact nuances of the dialect word. But it seems to me that it merely acts as a copula in many cases like なの at the end of sentence. An answer from the speaker of the dialect would clarify that.
    – someone
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:43
  • @Robert cause when you're asserting something <- 言い切りの形に付いて means "(When) attached to the end form/terminal form (of a conjugatable word)"
    – chocolate
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 14:31
  • Sorry. I had read that too, but my translation was lazy.
    – Robert
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:03

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