I was watching a few episodes of the anime for 魔法遣いに大切なこと and I couldn't help but notice that the main character, a girl from 岩手県 in this story, pronounced some words containing し as though they contained す instead, such as 私{わたし} being pronounced 私{わたす}, or した being pronounced as すた, for example. I don't recall this coming from a specific dialect, but I could be proven wrong. This might not even be a dialect, but I guess my question is three part:

  1. Am I hearing her right? Is she really pronouncing し closer to す?
  2. Is there an area of Japan where this kind of pronunciation is common?
  3. Does this derive from a dialect/Can this be considered a dialect?
  • 一種の「役割語(role language)」じゃないですかね?東北出身者(and 田舎者?)、っていうことを強く印象づけるための・・・
    – Chocolate
    Jan 20, 2018 at 8:54
  • 1
    youtu.be/dRB8rlP39IY?t=21s Her pronunciation of わたし at 0:23 sounds like わだす to me. In this video the fuse of /i/ and /u/ is introduced as the most important characteristic of Tohoku-ben. That said, real young Tohoku people usually can distinguish /i/ and /u/, so the girl's speech should be more or less stereotyped and exaggerated.
    – naruto
    Jan 20, 2018 at 13:01
  • The manga Musashi no Ken uses quite a few eye dialect spellings to represent the accent of a few characters in Iwate. Apart from わたす, there's also はずめますて (standard Japanese はじめまして) and よす (sJ よし). There's also this common word まんず which appears to be very typical of Tohoku. May 15, 2019 at 15:28

3 Answers 3

  1. Am I hearing her right? Is she really pronouncing し closer to す?
  2. Is there an area of Japan where this kind of pronunciation is common?
  3. Does this derive from a dialect/Can this be considered a dialect?

いずれも答えはyesです。 但し、アニメの中の表現(発音)ですので、日本人の共通的な認識に基づくであろうとする虚構の世界での話です。また、主人公が東北地方から東京に出てきたことを鮮明にするために、標準的な発音との違いを極端に表現しているものと思われます。 但し、この発音が、日本で言うと、東京ではなく、九州でも四国でも関西でもなく、東北地方のどこかのものであろうと想定するのは、事実であるかどうかとは無関係に、日本人の共通的な認識であることも事実です。

学問的あるいは経験に基づく正確な情報は、user27280さん、あるいはEiríkr Útlendiさんの回答に記載されたものが正しいと思います。(両者に+1 upvote)


  1. Am I hearing her right? Is she really pronouncing し closer to す?


  1. Is there an area of Japan where this kind of pronunciation is common?


東北地方の中心的な位置にある岩手県の県庁所在地である盛岡に暮らした経験があるというEiríkr Útlendiさんは、そのような発音を聞いていないと回答の中で書いています。

(2)Eiríkr Útlendiさんが盛岡で出会った人々は、いわゆる典型的な東北弁と言われる発音をしていなかった。別の言葉で言うと、標準的な発音を身につけた人々であった。
(3)東北に住んでいる人でもお年寄りは常に典型的な東北弁をしゃべるが、ある程度若い人はテレビ放送の普及等により、標準的な日本語発音を耳にする機会が多いので、標準的な発音を身につけており、相手が地元の人でない(外国人であるEiríkr Útlendiさんである)と分かると東北弁的な発音ではなく、標準的な発音でしゃべるような発音の切り替えをしている。

Eiríkr Útlendiさんの経験とは違って実際に典型的な東北弁の発音が今でも残っている例を2つ示します。
(1)テレビ放送番組の一つで、地方に住んでいる家族(両親等)が、東京に出て働いている、あるいは学んでいる子供に動画で語り掛ける「ビデオレター video letter」という有名な番組がありました。その家族(両親等)は岩手県に住んでいる人かどうかは不明ですが、私を含めた視聴者は、東北地方のどこかに住んでいる家族からの「ビデオレター」も結構あったというのが「共通の認識 common understanding」だと思います。「私」を「わたす」と発音したからそのように思ったかどうかは覚えておりませんが、明らかに東北地方の発音はすぐに分かります。
(2)Eiríkr Útlendiさんの回答で東北弁の学問的な資料としてWikipediaの「四つ仮名」が挙がっておりますが、その資料を見ますと東北弁に類した発音が島根県に残っていることが分かります。島根県出身の人としては、総理大臣であった「竹下登」さんが有名ですが、彼は、島根県なのに、東北弁のような発音をしていたというのが印象的でした。明らかに発音だけで東北弁であることが判断できます。同様に歌手の吉幾三さんは、歌を聞いただけで東北弁であることが分かります。吉幾三さんは青森県出身です。


  1. Does this derive from a dialect/Can this be considered a dialect?


  • 東北の日本海側だと「い」と「う」が中間的な音に置き換わるのでそんな感じになります。仙台~盛岡のあたりは行政区分としては東北ですが、民謡や言語は山脈の東西で別れるのでむしろ茨城とか栃木とかと共通する感じです。「事実であるかどうかとは無関係に」はいい指摘だと思うので+1
    – user4092
    Jan 20, 2018 at 9:25
  • +1 さすが @mackygooさんですね。ありがとう!動画を見つかるまで完成したの答えです。
    – psosuna
    Jan 22, 2018 at 17:41

Let me preface this with admitting that I have hardly any experience with Tohoku’s regional dialects. After a little research, however, I found this and this about わだす as well as this and this about すた to support your impressions (you might need to search a couple of those pages for the examples).

わかりすたべー = わかりましたか?

For this dialect, 濁点{だくてん} are apparently often affixed to many sounds that do not use them in standard Japanese. か becomes が, as in しずがに instead of しずかに., etc. Hence, this is the reason some people refer to it derogatorily as ズーズー弁. -- m(*T▽T *)m オ、オユルシヲ・・・

Real Tohoku dialects appear rife with differences from standard Japanese. I believe you’re just touching the tip of the iceberg here.

  • I'd learned Tōhoku 「~べ(ー)」 as equivalent to mainstream 「~ろ(う)」, as in 「だべ」=「だろ」, etc. Is it really more like か? Has that changed in the past couple decades? Jan 25, 2018 at 22:32
  • @Eiríkr Útlendi: Again, I don't have much experience with the dialect. I assume that you are right and it would use question intonation, more equivalent to 「わかったでしょう(?)」. A couple of sites I looked on both had the same 標準語 translation, so I didn't modify it (was waiting for someone with more familiarity to comment).
    – BJCUAI
    Jan 26, 2018 at 0:10

I lived in Morioka for a while in the mid-90s, and I don't remember any such accent. At the time, younger folks used さ on the end a lot: あのさ、それでさ、 etc. Older folks (as in, grandparent age) had a distinct accent, where らりるれろ sounded much more liquid, like /la li lu le lo/ with a real /l/ sound instead of the usual "r" flap.

What you're hearing might be related to the so-called yotsugana pronunciation shift. In the literature, this is described as a gradual leveling of the pronunciation of four kana: じ・ぢ・ず・づ, where these all gravitate towards a single pronunciation, depending on region. See the Wikipedia article for details: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yotsugana

I note from the map in the article that Morioka is a kind of island in the middle, where the /i/ and /u/ sounds are apparently still distinct, which might explain why I didn't hear any し・す merger. Although yotsugana is generally regarded as limited to the four rendaku kana, the vowel shift might also extend to the seion varieties し・ち・す・つ, which would ostensibly result in the pronunciations you're hearing in the anime.

PS: For a related phenomenon in English regarding the merger of vowel sounds, have a look at this Wikipedia section describing the merger between pin and pen in certain varieties of American English.

  • I hadn't thought of the yotsugana pronunciation shift, but you're right in that this might be an extension unto the seion series. Thank you!
    – psosuna
    Jan 22, 2018 at 17:42
  • し > す occurs in some dialects of Tohoku, that doesn't mean it occurs in all of them, or the Morioka dialect has anything to do with the Iwate dialect that the OP was concerned about. It's like saying "I lived in Essex but I don't remember anyone who spoke with the Yorkshire accent there" or "I lived in Alabama but I don't remember anyone who spoke with the Texas accent there". May 3, 2019 at 6:06
  • @Vun-HughVaw: I never stated that し>す occurs in all Tohoku dialects. I explicitly noted that the Morioka dialect appears to be different from other Iwate-ken dialects. I offered my perspective in the hopes it might be a useful point of reference, and I deliberately noted differences from what the OP describes. Your comment seems like a non sequitur...? May 3, 2019 at 6:15
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi I'm just saying that the whole first paragraph of your answer doesn't seem to be relevant or that useful as "perspective", unless you were a native speaker who lived there for a long long time and met pretty much people from all walks of life there (rich, poor, rural, urban, natives, people from other places moving there). Heck, accents may vary within a single neighborhood or from neighborhood to neighborhood, let alone a whole prefecture. May 3, 2019 at 6:21
  • @Vun-HughVaw: People move around less when you get out of the bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka. Even in the US, smaller regional cities and their surrounding areas have more stable and consistent language variants from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, the OP was asking specifically about Iwate, and Morioka is the capital of Iwate -- quite different from an answer about a Texas accent from someone who lived in Alabama. May 3, 2019 at 6:30

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