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A map of Japanese copula.

Many learners of Japanese begin their studies thinking that the language is a single standard, spoken across the whole nation. While it is true that nearly all Japanese nationals can speak the standard language, it is by no means their every day language. This long and mountainous archipelago has over the centuries given rise to a great number of dialects with their own distinct accent, intonation and vocabulary.

Before the Tokugawa Shogun (徳川将軍) moved to Edo (江戸, modern day Tokyo) in 1603, the main place of government was Kyoto (京都), and standard Japanese was the ancestor of today's Kyoto dialect. Modern standard Japanese, hyōjungo (標準語) is basically the dialect of Tokyo. This is used in schools and media throughout the country. Other varieties of Japanese are often considered provincial and like in every language, each bears connotations of archetypes.

A map of Japanese dialects.

Eastern Japanese

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Western Japanese

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Hachijō Island

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  • Hachijō Dialect


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