KOBE (Kyodo) The University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences in Kobe offered a lecture Wednesday on the Kansai region dialect to help foreign students communicate in the local language.

The lecture, the first of its kind at the university, was held in response to requests from foreign students who had a hard time understanding the distinctive accent and vocabulary of the dialect, having studied only standard Japanese before coming to Japan, according to university officials.

More than 50 overseas students, including from China and Saudi Arabia, participated in the class.

The lecturer, Yoko Ujihara, a Japanese-language instructor from the Young Women’s Christian Association of Osaka, explained the difference between “akan” and “chau,” both of which mean “no” but are used in different ways in the region, and how verbs can become honorifics by adding the suffix “haru.”

Lee Kang Yong, 23, who arrived from Busan, South Korea, two weeks ago, said: “I’m surprised there are so many words that I don’t know. It’s hard to understand the Kansai dialect but I’ll try to make the most of the lecture and make as many Japanese friends as possible.”

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