Okinawan scripts

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This article describes the modern Okinawan writing system. See the Okinawan language article for an overview of the language. For the writing systems in Ryukyuan languages in general, see the Ryukyuan language article.

Okinawan language, spoken in Okinawa Island, was once the official language of the Ryukyu Kingdom. At the time, documents were written in kanji and hiragana, derived from Japan. However, after Japan annexed the kingdom, the language was labeled as the "dialect" of mainland Japanese, and punished in schools through the use of "dialect cards". Nowadays, most mainland Japanese, as well as most Okinawans, tend to think of Okinawan as merely a dialect of mainland Japanese, even though the language is not mutually intelligible to main islands Japanese.[1]

As a "dialect", modern Okinawan language is not written frequently. When it is, the Japanese writing system is generally used with an ad hoc manner. There is no standard orthography for the modern language. Nonetheless, there are a few systems announced by scholars and alike. None of them are widespread among the native speakers, but those systems can write the language with less ambiguity than the ad hoc conventions. The Roman alphabet in some form or another is used in some publications, especially those of an academic nature.

Systems[edit]

Conventional usages[edit]

The modern conventional ad hoc spellings found in Okinawa.

Council system[edit]

The system devised by the Council for the Dissemination of Okinawan Dialect (沖縄方言普及協議会). [1]

University of the Ryukyus system[edit]

The system devised by Okinawa Center of Language Study, a section of University of the Ryukyus. Unlike others, this method is intended purely as a phonetic guidance, basically uses katakana only. For the sake of an easier comparison, corresponding hiragana are used in this article.

New Okinawan letters[edit]

新沖縄文字 (Shin Okinawa-moji), devised by Yoshiaki Funazu (船津好明 Funazu Yoshiaki?), in his textbook Utsukushii Okinawa no Hougen (美しい沖縄の方言; "The beautiful Okinawan Language"; ISBN 4-905784-19-0). The rule applies on hiragana only. Katakana is used as in Japanese; just like in the conventional usage of Okinawan.

Basic syllables and kai-yōon (palatalized syllables)[edit]

i u e o ya yu yo
(Initial) 1 [i]
[ji]
[u]
[wu]
[e]
[je]
[o]
[wo]
[ja] [ju] [jo]
(Elsewhere) (Not used) 2
Conventional
をぅ

いぇ


うぉ
Council ゆぃ をぅ ゆぇ
Ryukyu Univ.
New Okinawan い゙ Okinawan kana u.png え゙
' 'a
a
'i
i
'u
u
'e
e
'o
o
'ya 'yu 'yo
(Initial) 1 [ʔa] [ʔi] [ʔu] [ʔe] [ʔo] [ʔja] [ʔju] [ʔjo]
(Elsewhere) [a] [i]
[ji]
[u]
[wu]
[e]
[je]
[o]
[wo]
Conventional
いぇ

うぉ
Council っや っゆ っよ
Ryukyu Univ. いぇ いゃ いゅ いょ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana 'ya.png Okinawan kana 'yu.png Okinawan kana 'yo.png
k ka ki ku ke ko kya
[ka] [ki] [ku] [ke] [ko] [kja]
きゃ
g ga gi gu ge go gya
[ɡa] [ɡi] [ɡu] [ɡe] [ɡo] [ɡja]
ぎゃ
s sa shi
si
su she
se
so sha
sya
shu
syu
[sa] [ʃi] [su] [ʃe] [so] [ʃa] [ʃu]
Others しぇ しゃ しゅ
Ryukyu Univ.
すぃ
しぇ
z za zi zu ze zo
[dza] [dzi]
[dʐi]
[dzu] [dze] [dzo]
Others
Ryukyu Univ. づぃ
j ja ji ju je jo
[dʒa] [dʒi] [dʒu] [dʒe] [dʒo]
Others じゃ じゅ じぇ じょ
Ryukyu Univ. じゃ
ぢゃ

じゅ
ぢゅ
じぇ
ぢぇ
じょ
ぢょ
t ta ti tu te to
[ta] [ti] [tu] [te] [to]
Others てぃ とぅ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana ti.png Okinawan kana tu.png
d da di du de do
[da] [di] [du] [de] [do]
Others でぃ どぅ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana di.png Okinawan kana du.png
ch
c
cha
ca
chi
ci
chu
cu
che
ce
cho
co
[tʃa] [tʃi] [tʃu] [tʃe] [tʃo]
ちゃ ちゅ ちぇ ちょ
ts tsi tsu
[tsi]
[tʂi]
[tsu]
Ryukyu Univ. つぃ
n na ni nu ne no nya nyu
[na] [ɲi] [nu] [ne] [no] [ɲa] [ɲu]
にゃ にゅ
h ha hi fu
hu
he ho hya hyu hyo
[ha] [çi] [ɸu] [çe] [ho] [ça] [çu] [ço]
ひゃ ひゅ ひょ
b ba bi bu be bo bya byu byo
[ba] [bi] [bu] [be] [bo] [bja] [bju] [bjo]
びゃ びゅ びょ
p pa pi pu pe po pya pyu
[pa] [pi] [pu] [pe] [po] [pja] [pju]
ぴゃ ぴゅ
m ma mi mu me mo mya myu myo
[ma] [mi] [mu] [me] [mo] [mja] [mju] [mjo]
みゃ みゅ みょ
r ra ri ru re ro
[ɾa] [ɾi] [ɾu] [ɾe] [ɾo]
1: At the beginning of a word.
2: University of the Ryukyus system is an exception, always using ゐ, をぅ, え, を (ヰ, ヲゥ, エ, ヲ) for [i], [u], [e], [o], and い, う, いぇ, お (イ, ウ, イェ, オ) for [ʔi], [ʔu], [ʔe], [ʔo], respectively.

Gō-yōon (labialised syllables)[edit]

wa wi we
[ɰa] [ɰi] [ɰe]
Conventional うぃ うぇ
Council
Ryukyu Univ. ゑぃ
New Okinawan
' 'wa 'wi 'we
[ʔɰa] [ʔɰi] [ʔɰe]
Conventional うぃ うぇ
Council っわ っうぃ っうぇ
Ryukyu Univ. うゎ うゐ うぇ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana 'wa.png Okinawan kana 'wi.png Okinawan kana 'we.png
k kwa
qua
kwi
qui
kwe
que
[kʷa] [kʷi] [kʷe]
Conventional くぁ
くゎ
くぃ くぇ
Council くゎ
Ryukyu Univ. くゐ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana kwa.png Okinawan kana kwi.png Okinawan kana kwe.png
g gwa gwi gwe
[ɡʷa] [ɡʷi] [ɡʷe]
Conventional ぐぁ
ぐゎ
ぐぃ ぐぇ
Council ぐゎ
Ryukyu Univ. ぐゐ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana gwa.png Okinawan kana gwi.png Okinawan kana gwe.png
h fa
hwa
fi
hwi
fe
hwe
[ɸa] [ɸi] [ɸe]
Conventional ふぁ ふぃ ふぇ
Council
Ryukyu Univ. ふゎ
New Okinawan Okinawan kana hwa.png Okinawan kana hwi.png Okinawan kana hwe.png

Others[edit]

n 3 4 5
' 'n
Conventional
Council っん
Ryukyu Univ.
New Okinawan Okinawan kana 'n.png
3: Hatsuon (moraic n)
4: Sokuon (geminated consonants)
5: Chōon (longer vowels): In conventional usages, longer vowels are sometimes spelt like in mainland Japanese as well; "ou" (おう) for ō, doubled kana for others. (e.g. うう for ū.)

References[edit]