Today’s feature of Hakata-ben is not unique to Fukuoka, but is still recognized as one of the characteristics of Hakata-ben. It is the method of saying the negative verb – “to not do something”.
In standard Japanese, the negative form of verbs is made in one of two ways, depending on the verb group.
– For group 2 verbs (basically, verbs ending in “-ru”), the negative form is made by dropping 「ます」 (“masu”) from the polite form of the verb, and adding 「ない」 (“nai”), or 「ません」 (“masen”) for polite negatives. For example:
Dictionary form -> Polite form -> Negative form
食べる (taberu, to eat) -> 食べます -> 食べない / 食べません
見る (miru, to see) > 見ます -> 見ない / 見ません
– For group 1 verbs (verbs not ending in “-ru”, and a few “-ru” verbs too), drop ます
from the polite form, change the last vowel sound to “a”, and then add ない. For polite form, just drop the ます and add ません, as with group 2 verbs. For example:
泳ぐ (oyogu, to swim) -> 泳ぎます -> 泳がない / 泳ぎません
読む (yomu, to read) -> 読みます -> 読まない / 読みません
遊ぶ (asobu, to play) -> 遊びます -> 遊ばない / 遊びません
So, the above is a quick explanation of the standard Japanese negative form. Changing this to the Hakata-ben negative form is easy! Just drop the ない, and add 「ん」 in its place!
So, some examples:
食べない -> 食べん
泳がない -> 泳がん
読まない -> 読まん
遊ばない -> 遊ばん
Notice that 見ない is not included in the above list. This is because the shortened version of it would be just 見ん (min), which is so short that it’s hard to recognize as a verb! For this reason, most people would say 見ない instead, even in Fukuoka.
Finally, as we said, this special negative form is not only used in Fukuoka. It’s also quite common in older men around Japan. However, when combined with some of the other Hakata-ben we’ve taught in previous chapters, this will definitely make you sound like a native Fukuokan!