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A long time ago, in a university far, far away, I began studying Japanese with a text that our well-meaning instructors told us was standard Japanese, the kind of Japanese that could be used anywhere in Japan.

My university had an exchange program with a Japanese university in the Osaka region. I was not to go to Japan until after graduation, but a student who participated in the program came back speaking a language that was quite unlike the textbook drills.

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