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OSAKA — The distinctions are clear, a Kansai native might tell you. To express, for example, “she’s not coming” (“kanojo konai” in standard Japanese), Osaka people would say “kanojo kehen,” Kyoto people “kanojo kihen” and Kobe people “kanojo kohen.”

But while outsiders might be scoffed at for only recognizing Osaka-ben (dialect), the stuff of comedy television, there’s a Kansai speech pattern that even most residents couldn’t identify: Senba kotoba (language).

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