Even when speaking with fellow English speakers, sometimes you realize that the same thing can be called a variety of names. (Try calling soda “pop” in most of the US and enjoy the funny looks you get.) The same is true in Japan, where, thanks to regional dialects, some people have a hard time being understood when they leave their hometowns.

One Twitter user recently brought regional dialect differences to the forefront of the Internet when he surveyed over a thousand people about the word they would use to describe a certain way of sitting. Collecting and plotting the data on a map of Japan, the results have been surprising people from all regions!

On the evening of May 1, Twitter user Hiroaki Iima posted a tweet asking his followers and other users to complete a quick survey. He asked them simply to reply with the word they would use to describe the way the boy in the accompanying picture is sitting and include the region of Japan in which they learned this word. Easy.

▼ What would you call this style of sitting in English?

It was so easy, in fact, that he received 600 responses in just two hours and over 800 in eight hours. When he closed the survey at 8:30 AM on May 2, just 10 hours later, he’d received nearly 1,400 answers from all over Japan.

His next task was to tally all of the answers and plot them on a map of Japan. This way, it would be easy to tell which words are used in different regions.

▼ He’s pretty dedicated to this project to input all of this data…

Before we explain the results, it’s important to note that this style of sitting is the posture enforced in most schools in Japan during both P.E. classes and assemblies held in the gymnasium.

▼ There are lots of blue squares…

Mr. Iima found that there are five different names commonly used for this style of sitting:

Darker blue square: Tai-iku suwari (“P.E. sitting”)

Light blue rectangle: Tai-iku kan suwari (“Gymnasium sitting”)

Green rhombus: Taisou suwari (“Calisthenics sitting”)

Purple triangle: Sankaku suwari (“Triangle sitting”)

Red circle: Anza (“Sitting quietly/sitting cross-legged”)

On the map, the size of the symbol reflects the number of responses for that word. Almost every region had replies mentioning “Tai-iku suwari (P.E. sitting)”, however the differences in dialect were also very common and obvious by region: “Taisou suwari (calisthenics sitting)” is the second most commonly used term and is used in a variety of areas. Kansai is dominated by “Sankaku suwari (triangle sitting),” although it pops up in a couple of other prefectures, as well. Kochi Prefecture is apparently the only region to use “Tai-iku kan suwari (gymnasium sitting),” and “Anza (sitting quietly/ sitting cross-legged)” is used exclusively in Tohoku.

A few other words for the same posture came out in the survey too, although they are less commonly used:

“S-gata suwari” (S-shaped sitting)Gunma

Hako suwari” (Box sitting) -Saitama

Yama suwari” (Mountain sitting) -Nagano and Kagawa

Ohiza dakko” (Hugging knees sitting) -Shizuoka

“くno jigata” (Shape of the character ku), “Daruma sitting” -Osaka

Hakutosan suwari” (A mountain in North Korea) -North Korean school [???]

Dai 2 no shisei” (Second posture) -Nagasaki

After all of Iima’s research, data input and map-making, we found out that if you said “Tai-iku suwari,” pretty much everyone in the country would understand what you’re talking about. Still, seeing the differences in dialect that exist alongside the common word is pretty interesting.

If you live, work or went to school in Japan, what do you call this position? Are there any other Japanese words you know that are often different in other areas? Also, if you want to learn more about Japanese dialects, you can always learn how to say “I love you” in all 47 prefectures of Japan!

Source: Twitter via Togetter