The Banshū dialect (播州弁 Banshū-ben), also called the Harima dialect (播磨弁・方言 Harima-ben/-hōgen), is a Japanese dialect spoken in the Harima region (corresponding to the boundaries of the former Harima Province) of southwestern Hyōgo Prefecture. Although it is included in the Kansai dialect group, it shares much of its vocabulary with Chūgoku group. It can be further subdivided into the Western Banshū dialect (西播方言 Seiban-hōgen) and the Eastern Banshū dialect (東播方言 Tōban-hōgen).
The Banshū dialect is flanked by the Tajima, Okayama, Tanba, and Settsu dialects, the last two being closely related to the better-known Kyoto and Osaka dialects, respectively. In addition, the dialect, spoken between Kobe and Himeji, is distinct from the dialect of the prefectural capital. For this reason, Ryōji Kamata[e] regards the Banshū dialect as the most representative of Hyōgo Prefecture, where Japanese transitions between the Kansai dialect group in the east and the Chūgoku group in the west.
The Banshū dialect's subdivisions correspond well to the various river basins over which it is spoken. In particular, the Western Banshū dialect area comprises the Ibo River basin and the cities of Tatsuno, Aioi, Akō, and Shisō and the towns of Taishi (Ibo District), Kamigōri (Akō District), and Sayō (Sayō) on the Chikusa River basin, and the Eastern Banshū dialect area comprises the basins of the Kako, Ichi, and Yumesaki Rivers. Although Himeji City is generally considered part the Western Banshū (geopolitical) area (see for example Harima Province#Modern usage), its subdialect is best classed with the Eastern Banshū group. Owing to the increased economic intercourse between the coastal region of the Eastern Banshū (geopolitical) area and the Osaka area, as well as the former's consequential urbanization and industrialization (see Coast of Harima Industrial Area), the coastal Eastern Banshū dialects have been influenced by the Osaka dialect.
The Funasaka Pass that marks part of the boundary between Hyōgo and Okayama Prefectures also marks the furthest western extent of the Western Banshū dialect group, and upon crossing over the pass, one encounters the Okayama dialect of the Chūgoku dialect group. However, the zone of contact between the Okayama dialect and the aforementioned subdialects of the City of Akō and of the towns of Kamigōri and Sayō has some distinctive features (as a result of dialect mixture). The Banshū area is also in contact with Awaji Island across the Akashi Strait, but that island's Awaji dialect shares common features instead with such as the Kishū and Awa dialects, and is quite distinct from Banshū.
Like other Kansai dialects, the Banshū dialect has a minimal length restraint of two moras for phonological words. Therefore, words that are underlyingly one mora are realized with a long vowel in isolation; for example, /ki/ ("tree") and /me/ ("eye") are pronounced [kiː] and [meː], respectively, in isolation in Banshū dialect (but cf. forms with a following particle, which is considered part of the phonological word; for example with the nominative case particle =ga: ki=ga → [ki.ga] and me=ga → [me.ga], with no vowel lengthening), but [ki] and [me] in standard Japanese, which lacks the minimal length constraint. In contrast, long vowels in some grammatical forms, including the volitional and the infinitive of adjectives, are shortened (the latter only for adjectives of root length at least two moras); for example, Banshū dialect has ik-o=ka ("go.volitional=interrogative") and hay-o nar-u ("fast.infinitive become.nonpast") for standard ik-oo=ka and haya-ku nar-u, respectively (see "Euphonic changes (音便 Onbin)" for more information on the second example, which involves a euphonic change followed by monophthongization followed by vowel shortening). Also, the western subdialects have the monophthonization /ai/ to /ee/.
As in the Tanba dialect, alternations between the phonemes /d/ and /z/ are seen before all vowels. For instance, ademichi ("footpath between rice fields"), denbu ("all"), sendai ("garden"), and atsu-i=do ("hot.nonpast=emphatic") for standard azemichi, zenbu, senzai, and atsu-i=zo, respectively. There is also some alternation with these phonemes and /r/; for example, see=∅ raite-ik-o ("Keep up the hard work!", lit. "spirit=accusative take out.continuative.volitional") for standard see=∅ dasite-ik-oo (again, this example features a euphonic change in addition to the phonological change; see below).
|Example words||Keihan type||Tarui type|
|HL||LF~LH-L/HF~HH-L (elderly speakers: LF~LH-L)|
|HL||LF~LH-L/HF~HH-L (elderly speakers: HL)|
The subdialects spoken in the southern and eastern parts of the Banshū (geopolitical) area, which comprises the cities of Akashi, Kakogawa, Takasago, Miki, Ono, Kasai, Nishiwaki, and Katō, the towns of Inami, Harima, Fukusaki, and Ichikawa, the city of Himeji (excepting the vicinity of the Hayashida-chō district) and the southern part of the town of Taka, use a Keihan type (wordtone and accent) pitch accent system. Among these, Himeji, Akashi, and others use a system identical to that of Kobe (see the table at right), while the accent used in the vicinity of Nishiwaki and Ono differs in that unaccented low-tone nouns (like those in class 2.4, and also usagi ("rabbit") and midoriiro ("green")) have a pitch rise between the first and second moras rather than between the penultimate and ultimate moras (so for instance, usagi and midoriiro are LLH~LLL-H and LLLLH~LLLLL-H in the Kobe-type subdialects but LHH and LHHHH in the Ono-type subdialects). The Ono-type accents represent an older form of the Keihan-type accent.
On the other hand, the subdialects of the northern and western Banshū (geopolitical) area, which comprises the cities of Aioi, Akō, Shisō, and Tastuno, the towns of Kamikawa, Taishi, Kamigōri, and Sayō, the vicinity of the Hayashida-chō district of Himeji, and the northern part of Taka, use the Tarui type accent system. In the Keihan system, 2-mora nouns can begin with either high tone (classes 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3) or low tone (classes 2.4, and 2.5), but this opposition has been lost in the Tarui type accent (high and low tones on the first mora are in free variation). Even within the same cities and towns, there are variations by neighborhood and age, the younger generation's speech has been influenced by the standard Japanese used in the media, so while we speak of a single "Tarui type" accent system, in fact there is great diversity within that system.
2-mora nouns of the classes 2.2 and 2.3 have merged in the Keihan type system; the notation 1/23/4/5 is used to express this. The Tarui type accent of Taishi, described in the table and also employed in areas such as Akō, Tastuno, and Aioi, would then be represented 14/23/5. This is said represent the most original Tarui type accent. The accent of Kamikawa (14/235b/5a) has split the original 2.5 class, with nouns such as aki ("autumn"), ame ("rain"), ase ("sweat"), and ayu ("sweetfish") in the 2.5a class and nounslike kumo ("spider"), koe ("voice"), saru ("monkey"), and tsuru ("crane") in the 2.5b class. Generally it is thought that the pitch contour of the 2.5a class is the original, and that the nouns of the 2.5b class diverged from it. The accent of Sayō (14/235), also used in places such as Shisō, differs from the others by the presence of a high tone on the first mora of class 2.5a and 2.5b nouns; this accent system is also used in the non-Banshū dialects of the cities of Tanba in Hyōgo Prefecture and Fukuchiyama in Kyoto Prefecture, as well as that of the Ikuno-chō neighborhood of the city of Asago. The Kamikawa subdialect is believed to be in the process of abandoning its own system in favor of the 14/235 system as well. Especially among young people in the 14/235 region, a trend towards a high tone on the first mora of class 2.4 nouns is seen, perhaps due to influence from the accent system of Standard Japanese. That is to say, these regions are in the process of adopting the system of the (non-Banshū) dialect of the Asago-chō neighborhood of Asago City (1/2345). Young people even in other (non-Banshū) regions where the Tarui type accent is used are being influenced by the accent system of the standard language, and as a result the number of people in those areas who do not follow the patterns of the chart is increasing.
In regions using the Keihan system, there is a distinction made between 1-mora H- and L-verbs, as shown in the chart. Tarui type regions lack this distinction, pronouncing both classes the same (with the sole exception of the verb or- ("exist-animate"), which is F~H-L in both areas).
In the Keihan type regions, the pitch contour of 2-mora adjectives is the same as in places like Kyoto, namely HL. Tarui type regions, on the other hand, have the same pitch contour for such adjectives as in the Tajima and Okayama dialects, with either LH~LH-L or HH~HH-L in free variation. Elderly speakers of the Western Banshū dialect still preserve the distinction between H- (LF~LH-L) and L-adjectives (HL). In recent years, that distinction is in decline, with their merger into LF~LH-L that started among young people steadily becoming mainstream.
There is a tendency, especially prominent with upper monograde verbs like mi- ("see") and 2-mora lower monograde verbs like uke- ("receive"), for verbs of the monograde class to be conjugated using the quadrigrade pattern; some speakers have fully migrated all monograde verbs to the quadrigrade class:
The -ba ending of the provisional form fuses with the realis stem,[r] with the final -e of that stem being deleted and the initial -b- of the provisional ending either changing to a palatal glide, as in ik-ya ("go.provisional") and yoker-ya ("good.provisional") for standard ike-ba and yokere-ba, respectively, or disappearing entirely, as in ik-a and yoker-a. However, in the modern Eastern Banshū dialect, the conditional form euphonic[s] + -tara is often used in place of the provisional:
A merger of the conclusive and adnominal for adjectival nouns is also heard: