According to Wikipedia (and some posters here), Kagoshima Japanese resists the じ・ぢ and ず・づ mergers, much in the same way that various English dialects retain differences between words like meet and meat: Yotsugana by dialect map But the gendai kanadzukai (or rather kanazukai) has flattened out the orthographical distinctions between these kana. Is this just a "sucks to speak a nonstandard dialect!" sort of situation? I believe I remember reading in a different Wikipedia article (although I can't find it now) that said that ぢ and づ were "not completely obsolete" because of the Kagoshima dialect. Do Kagoshima speakers, when writing in their own vernacular, still use the ぢ- and づ-based spellings of words that they pronounce differently?

Also... what's that little speck of purple on the edge of Yamanashi?

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    The short answer is "yes". However, for some of dialects, the differences with Hyojungo is so dramatic as to make this point rather moot. For example, while much is made of the differences between Osaka and Tokyo dialects, in Kyushu people often point to strangeness the Kagoshima dialect. I have a books written in Kyushu dialects from around Kumamoto and Fukuoka. Even these are quite different from what was spoken in Fukuoka-shi itself. These dialects often have their own orthographic conventions which can diverge noticeably from that of the standard national language.
    – A.Ellett
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:00
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    Though my comment looks like an answer, good answer should be able to provide examples of the orthographic conventions used in various dialects. And I really lack a firm grasp of these conventions (particularly given I barely comprehend much that diverges much from the standard language). Moreover, my understanding is that the dialects of northern Japan are also perhaps as distinctive from the standard language as Kagoshima-ben is. I seem to recall watching a video of a guy from Tohoku speaking in his native dialect; it felt like I was listening to a completely different language
    – A.Ellett
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:12
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    much in the same way that various English dialects retain differences between words like meet and meat Which dialects are those? And how do they pronounce each of them? For Japanese, I'm じ=ぢ, but ず≠づ.
    – istrasci
    Apr 16, 2021 at 16:31
  • @A.Ellett, many years ago I spent some time living in Morioka. At one point, I visited an old folks home where people spoke full-on Tōhoku-ben—unintelligble 😄. Most other dialects I've heard in Japan (specifically, Honshū) maintain roughly the same sound system, and differ in vocab and inflection. The Tōhoku-ben I heard also had a pronounced accent -- differences in pronunciation. This was most obvious with the らりるれろ morae, where the initial consonant sounded much more like a liquid //l// than the usual tap //ɾ//. Apr 16, 2021 at 22:49
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    @a20 Standard uses ぢ and づ in rendaku contexts (e.g. 小野塚{おのづか}) and when a kana is repeated with voicing (e.g. 続{つづ}く), but in the historical kana orthography many words had ぢ and づ in contexts other than this, reflecting archaic pronunciations: 水{みづ}, 劇場{げきぢやう}, etc. Sep 27, 2021 at 17:12

1 Answer 1


Many moons ago, I taught English to first-year college students at a school in Tochigi Prefecture. One student had come up from somewhere in Kyūshū, although I forget exactly where. His name was 小島【こじま】. I called him こじまさん using the generally-Kantō pronunciation of じ, starting with a consonant something like [[dʑ]] (not too far from an English ⟨j⟩, with more of a stop sound initially), and he was insistent that the consonant in じ was pronounced more like [[ʑ]] or [[ʒ]] without the initial stop (technically, the voiced alveolo-palatal fricative, which doesn't exist in most varieties of English; or the voiced post-alveolar fricative, as in the pronunciation of the letter ⟨s⟩ in the words leisure or collision). He wrote his name in kana on the blackboard (since we were already standing there) and emphasized that it's spelled with a じ.

While not conclusive, I think this is strongly suggestive that, for this one person at least, the spellings and pronunciations are both distinct for those who distinguish the 四つ仮名 pronunciations in speech.

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