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I noticed something very interesting in the adaptations of the novel 『バッテリー』 across media forms. For context, the story is set in a fictional city in 岡山県. The protagonist 原田巧 is described to have been born in Tokyo and moving around with his itinerant family due to his dad's job changes. At the beginning of the story, the family move to 岡山県, 巧's mom's 実家.

In all the media adaptations, the people in that small 岡山 city speak with a very distinct accent. But interestingly, in its movie adaptation which came out in 2007, most local male characters, from barely teenaged elementary, middle school kids to middle-aged teachers use the first person pronoun わし. This is the only place where I've heard teenagers refer to themselves as わし. But interestingly when the TV drama came out in the following year, the markedly western accent is kept while the male first person わし is all changed to おれ. The anime came out much later in 2016, and it followed suit in discarding わし as a dialect marker: just like in the TV drama, you hear the accent but not the unique use of the male first person pronoun.

Sadly I don't have access to the book (This 試し読み that I found cuts off right before the first scene with local kids) or the radio drama which seemingly came out in 2000, so I don't know which personal pronoun is used in them.

I have read every answer under this question, and they appear to address わし's use by older men, which I guess is more of a general 役割語 and has enjoyed wider and more lasting currency. I am also aware that in 愛知県(三河弁) some females use this pronoun, but that's outside the scope of this question.

中国地方、四国地方、近畿地方、九州地方、北陸地方など西日本全般や東海地方の愛知・岐阜で用いられている。これらの地域では子供や若者でも普通に使うことが多いが、近年はメディアの影響から、若い人を中心に俺も使われるようになってきた。主に男性の一人称であるが、一部地域においては(主に老人が)男女にかかわらず用いている。 (source)

Wikipedia 日本語の一人称代名詞 contains similar information.

My question is

Is the change of the local male 一人称 in media adaptations in any way indicative of actual usage change over time? Namely, did young male users of わし in those areas actually dwindle in the past two decades?

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    Those sources you cited aren't enough? They clearly say the use of おれ is becoming more common, that is, the use of わし is in decline. Hiroshima and Okayama are areas where dialects are relatively well preserved, but it's still hard to believe nothing has changed in the last 20 years. BTW, I know one university student who came to Tokyo from Hiroshima around 1998. If I remember correctly, he used ワシ for a while, but soon stopped using it.
    – naruto
    Dec 6 '21 at 2:08
  • @naruto Well I guess after extensive research I still decided to post this question because I was looking for some personal attestations from local speakers or people familiar with local dialects... I am really curious about on-the-ground, real-life usage... For example, is it 50-50 now compared to 80-20 some 20 years go? I know this is very trifling stuff, but just out of curiosity...
    – Eddie Kal
    Dec 6 '21 at 2:15
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Dialects in Setouchi (Okayama, Hiroshima, Kagawa, Ehime) are known to be close to the so-called "全国共通いなか言葉" typical of 昔話 (watch this YouTube video). People in those regions actually use ~じゃのう, ~じゃよ, わし and so on in real life! People often say 「昔話みたい!」 when an old person in this area appears in a TV program. In particular, the use of ~じゃ in Hiroshima-ben is well-known.

My personal experiences are not necessary more correct than the information on Wikipedia, but perhaps I am the most familiar with those dialects among those who frequent here.

  • My grandfather living in Northern Tokushima (almost Kagawa) actively uses わし.
  • A female friend of mine from Hiroshima, born in the 1980's, used じゃ actively when she was around 20 (she then moved to Osaka and became a fluent speaker of Osaka-ben, which is very different).
  • When I moved from Tokushima to Kagawa in the late 1980's, I was surprised because most elementary school boys were using わし.
  • I remember one middle school student from Kagawa who traveled to Tokyo in 2000 was using のう and わし. I remember this because I hadn't heard Kagawa dialect for a while. He then moved to Tokyo and now speaks standard Japanese.
  • When I traveled to Hiroshima several years ago, I remember a young local woman near Hiroshima Station speaking in a typical Hiroshima dialect.

Unfortunately, I lived in Setouchi long ago, so I have no personal experience of how things have changed in the past 20 years. I am certain that some of them remain, but according to the internet, young users of わし seem to have become fairly rare.

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I spent a year living in eastern Hiroshima prefecture in the 1980's teaching English and it was pretty common to hear younger men using わし there at that time. I lived with a family and then spoke dialect at home. Most of the students I taught also spoke in dialect and you heard it everywhere.

In the times I have been back since then, the last of which was a few years ago, it seems that 標準語 has made some serious inroads and you generally hear much less dialect. I don't recall hearing anyone under 50 using わし any time recently. Even the family I lived with didn't seem to speak in 備後弁 as much anymore, but that might just be because they hadn't seen me in a while. (Which is too bad! I miss hearing people say じゃけえのう.)

So, in answer to your question, I'll give my entirely anecdotally-based opinion that younger men there are no longer using わし as much as they used to, at least in the cities.

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