Definition of Nandeyanen
なんでやねん (nandeyanen) is probably one of the most important phrases in the Kansai region, especially in Osaka, where it’s used almost like a “greeting”. Basically, it means “No way” or “What the heck?”, and is often used when you react to someone’s silly, goofy and/or unreasonable remark/behaviour (which can be said/done intentionally or unintentionally).
How to Use Nandeyanen
なんでやねん is particularly used when you think that something is not quite right and you want to correct them in a playful manner. For instance, if your friend (either jokingly or accidentally) says to you “You’re turning 30 this year, right?” — even though you’re still 28 —, you can say in a light tone, “なんでやねん 、まだ28やわ”, meaning “What the heck? I’m still 28!”.
In fact, this way of communication plays a pivotal role in Japanese humour, which is often referred to as “ボケ (boke)” and “ツッコミ (tsukkomi)”. Specifically, boke indicates the act of saying (or doing) something silly or weird as a joke, and tsukkomi is to correct them in a non-serious manner. And なんでやねん (nandeyanen) is often used to start tsukkomi spontaneously upon hearing someone’s boke.
While this kind of boke-and-tsukkomi communication is often used playfully by Japanese comedians, it is also used by many people in the Kansai region (esp. Osaka) in casual conversations. For instance, when people from Osaka do boke in front of their friends, they would expect that someone will play the role of tsukkomi and correct their boke, as shown in the following examples.
Example of Boke and Tsukkomi
* The following conversations contain some Kansai-dialect words/phrases. To fully understand them, see “9 Essential Kansai Dialect (Kansai-ben) Words and Phrases” and Essential Grammar in Kansai Dialect (関西弁, Kansai ben).
I’ve bought you a souvenir from Japan!
B: マジ？ ありがとう！
Oh really? Thanks!
Here it is, Marmite! ( = boke: intentional foolish behaviour)
“What the heck?” It’s not Japanese! ( = tsukkomi: react to boke in a playful manner)
A: What do you wanna eat for lunch today?
B: I feel like Italian today!
A: OK then, let’s go to McDonald’s (= boke: an intentional foolish remark)
B: What the heck? I said Italian! (tsukkomi: correct boke playfully)
McDonald’s is usually abbreviated as マック (“Mac”) in Japanese, but in the Kansai dialect, it’s マクド (“Makudo“).
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This Kindle (and paper) book “なんでやねん」を英語で言えますか？ 知らんとヤバいめっちゃ使う50のフレーズ＋α Let’s speak in Kansai dialect” humorously explains how to translate “なんでやねん” and other essential Kansai dialect words into English. It is written by Ryohei Kawai (川合 亮平), a famous Japanese-English translator and also a Kansai-dialect native speaker. Although this book is originally targeted at Japanese people learning English, it’d be interesting to read for intermediate or advanced Japanese learners as well who are keen to learn deep Kansai-ben.
Related Song: なんでやねんねん
“なんでやねんねん” (nandeyanen nen) is a humorous Japanese song sung by 浜田ばみゅばみゅ (Hamada Bamyu Bamyu), an “idol” acted by the famous Japanese comedian 浜田雅功 (Masatoshi Hamada) as a parody of the popular Japanese singer, きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ (Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).
なるほど: I see