During Japanese colonization, Korean residents of Seoul apparently spoke their own unique dialect of Japanese called “Keijō-kotoba”, which included phrases like doshitanne (‘what’s the matter?’) and 조건chōdai (‘give me the conditions’).
In a previous post, I explored how Koreans who spoke Japanese during this period often mixed in Korean words like 아이고 (‘gosh’) and 나쁜 (‘bad’) and grammatical influences from western Japanese dialects, but this article adds additional insight by revealing that Korean residents of Seoul actually spoke a Koreanized Japanese dialect that was distinct and consistent enough to be given its own name.
Keijō-kotoba appears to be based on a western dialect of Japanese, as the greeting ‘doshitanne’ sounds similar to the ‘doshitan’ or ‘dōshitan’ used in the Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and northern Kyushu dialects. Indeed, most of the Japanese settlers who colonized Korea came from western regions of Japan like Yamaguchi and Nagasaki, especially in the early days of colonization. It is reminiscent to how Mexican Spanish developed from the Western Andalusian dialect spoken by the Spanish settlers, and incorporated lots of Nahuatl vocabulary from the native Aztec residents.
The Korean girls in this article sang ‘Mitamiware’ (Youtube link: https://youtu.be/U5Rq4PX433Y）, which is an old Japanese 8th century poem set to modern music reciting 御民我、生ける験あり、天地の栄ゆる時に、遇えらく念えば, roughly translating to “As Imperial subjects, we have a reason to live in this glorious age when both the heavens and the earth prosper under you.”
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo), February 8, 1942
Let’s stop saying “Doshitanne”
Japanese Language Regular Meeting of Maizuru (Muhak) Girls’ High School
The fifth monthly meeting of the Japanese Language Regular Meeting of Maizuru Girls’ High School was held at the school auditorium from 1:20 p.m. on February 7 to make a pledge to “use the Japanese language correctly and proceed with the correct mind” to eradicate nasty phrases of Keijō-kotoba like “doshitanne” and “chokkon-chōdai”.
This time, Mr. Shimada, Chief of the Editing Section of the Seoul government, who has a close relationship with the founder of the school, attended the meeting and watched the proceedings with great interest. He bowed his head, his heart deeply moved as he listened to the students sing “Mitamiware”. Like older sisters caring about their cute younger sisters, the older students were concerned that the newly admitted students in the first year class might possibly introduce bad words into the school. Therefore, this month’s regular meeting, which was to be held on the 10th of the month, was moved up to the 7th instead as an emergency measure to address these concerns in the meeting agenda. It was a big regular meeting with 300 regular members, plus the teachers.
The meeting was called to order by a senior student, and a dialogue began between the first and second year classes. The students reported the bad words that they had picked up on the street or at home, and corrected each other saying “You shouldn’t say such words” or “We should get rid of such Japanese phrases”.
After this enthusiastic question and answer session was over, the next lecture was given. The leader of the small group of students innocently asked for Mr. Shimada to speak next, and suddenly the teacher, Mr. Shimada, casually stood up and went to the podium and said the following:
“Well everyone, I was actually the one who named the school Maizuru (Muhak). At first, I was going to name it Jōtō Girls’ School because it was in the same neighborhood as Jōtō (Sungdong) Junior High School, but someone said it would cause trouble to have both schools named Jōtō, so I decided to name the school Maizuru instead”.
Mr. Shimada, who was completely in control of the situation, delighted the students with his jokes. He then gave a 30-minute lecture on Korean women and the spread of the Japanese language in an easy-to-understand manner, before concluding at 4:00 p.m. with an exhortation to the women: “Everyone, become good mothers!”. (Photo: Japanese Language Regular Meeting)
Big lecture on current events at the Yonggang-dong Neighborhood Security Center
At the Yonggang-dong Neighborhood Security Center, in order to make the people more aware of current events as people at war, a big lecture on current events will be held at 2:00 p.m. on the 10th in the center’s auditorium, with many leaders of the dong federation, ward leaders, and group leaders gathered. The two topics of the day will be “Warriors of the Greater East Asian War and the Duty of the People” by Seo Chun and “Neighborly Security and Mutual Aid” by Sin Jeong-eon.
Reddit Link: Korean residents of Seoul once spoke their own unique dialect of Japanese called “Keijō-kotoba”, which included phrases like doshitanne (‘what’s the matter?’) and 조건chōdai (‘give me the conditions’), and Imperial Japanese authorities tried to eradicate it in schools : korea (reddit.com)