Word of the Week: せーへん & せやな

It’s time for Word of the Week again! Last week we looked at a Japanese word or phrase beginning with ‘su’ (す), and focussed on the word すごい (凄い) (sugoi), which basically means ‘wow’. This week I’m looking for a word or phrase beginning with ‘se’ (せ). A big thank you to those who joined in with suggestions this week:

Shigeo Moriyoshi suggested ‘sekkaku’ (せっかく / 折角), ‘with trouble’, ‘at great pains’, ‘long awaited’; ‘semeru’ (せめる), ‘to attack’, ‘to assault’; ‘sekasu'(せかす), ‘to hurry’; ‘settoku suru’ (せっとくする), ‘to persuade’; and ‘sei’ (せい), ’cause’ or ‘reason’; lovelycomplex22 suggested two Kansai-ben phrases ‘seehen’ (せーへん), ‘to not do’ and ‘seyana’ (せやな), which I think means ‘that’s how it is’; and Japan Australia  suggested ‘se-no’ (せーの), ‘ready, set, go!’; and ‘sekoi’ (せこい), ‘cheap/stingy’.

There were some great ideas this week and in the end, with two votes, I decided to write about…

せーへん & せやな

(seehen & seyana)

This is going to be a difficult post to write, because I hardly know any Kansai-ben (関西弁 / Kansai dialect), but I was quite taken by the original suggestion and decided I couldn’t let it slip by! If any of my readers are from Kansai or have spent enough time there to have learnt any Kansai-ben, I’d really appreciate your comments below!

Whilst trying to find out what ‘seehen’ and ‘seyana’ meant, I found this great website called Nihongoresources.com which has a list of Kansai and Osaka dialect. I hope they won’t mind me borrowing the list below – please do check out their site for more useful information!

Here’s a list of Kansai-ben beginning with ‘se’ (in the left hand column). The middle column shows the standard Japanese word, and the right hand column gives the English translation.

せーだい [seedai], せーらい [seerai] rally cry, cry of encouragement
せーへん [seehen], せん [sen] しない [shinai] ‘to not do’, kansai conjugation speciality
せく [seku] 急ぐ [isogu] hurry, hurried
せっしょうな [殺生な] [sesshouna] 勘弁して [kanbenshite] “give me a break”, “pity me”
せたろう [setarou], せたらう [setarau] 背負う [shou (seou)] to be burdened [by/with something]
せや [seya] そうだ [souda] “that’s how it is”
せんせ [sense] 先生 [sensei] teacher
せんせい [sensei] similar to 社長(shachou), used (jokingly) to lift someone’s spirits.
せんとあかん [sento akan] しなければいけない [shinakereba ikenai] must do, have to do
せんど [sendo] 何度も [nandom] ‘a long time’, ‘I-don’t-remember-how-many times’
せんない [詮ない] [sennai] 仕方ない [shikatanai] similar to しょうもない [shoumonai]

Based on this list, I have concluded that ‘seehen’ (せーへん) means ‘to not do’ and ‘seyana’ (せやな) must mean ‘that’s how it is’, although the table above shows just ‘seya’, so I wonder if this might have another meaning. After a bit of Googling it looks like ‘seya’ can also be ‘seyanen’ (せやねん), ‘seyana’ (せやな) and possibly even ‘soyana’ (そやな). I even read somewhere that ‘seyana’ is used more by people over the age of 40 and used more in Osaka than Kyoto, whereas ‘soyana’ is for younger people, especially in Kyoto. As far as I can tell, it does mean the same as ‘souda’, i.e. ‘that’s how it is’, ‘that’s right’.

Now, let’s see if I can use ‘seehen’ in a sentence. How about:

しゅくだいをせーへん。(shukudai o seehen) “to not do one’s homework”

Remember, dialect is usually used more in spoken Japanese than in written Japanese, and the sentence would be quite casual.

Looking at the other Kansai-ben listed above, I think my favourite Kansai-ben word is ‘seedai’ (せーだい) used as a ‘rally cry’ or ‘cry of encouragement’. I can almost feel the slightly rough but energetic Kansai spirit in this word.

There’s a lot of interesting ‘ben’ out there to learn, and I do sometimes wish I could have lived somewhere with a more distinct dialect that I could have picked up. Perhaps I can make friends with some people when I visit Tohoku and try to learn a little Tohoku-ben… (it can’t be any harder than Bristolian…) 😉


Next week’s post will be about a word or phrase beginning with ‘so’ (そ), so please leave your suggestions below. The word can be a verb, adjective or expression, but no nouns please! For example, ‘sou desu’ (そうです) meaning ‘that is so’ would be acceptable, but ‘soba’ (そば), buckwheat noodles, would not. I look forward to reading your ideas! (*^_^)v

Word of the Week 2014

8 thoughts on “Word of the Week: せーへん & せやな

  1. A very informative post this week and helped me learn a lot of new Kansai-ben. A few suggestions for next week are:

    Soro Soro (そろそろ) Sooner or Later
    Sore o kudasai (それをください) I’ll take that one or Can I have that?


  2. I live in Kansai and I do speak Kansai-ben, but a lot of people keep forgetting that there is not ONE Kansai-ben, but many different ones. The one in Kyoto is different from the one in Osaka and that one is different from the one in Himeji etc.
    I think the most popular (as often used in manga / anime) is the Osaka dialect. 😀

    So, I’ve never heard most of the words you listed above, but we do say せーへん. *g*

    Suggestions for next time:
    卒業する (graduate)
    そくそく (keenly)


    • Ah of course – I should have thought of that! I think I’d like to learn Kyoto or Osaka dialect, but my impression is that they’re quite different.

      Thanks for the suggestions for next week! 🙂


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