|Region||Southern Okinawa Islands|
|Japanese, Okinawan, Rōmaji|
South–Central Okinawan or Shuri–Naha
The Okinawan language (沖縄口/ウチナーグチ, Uchināguchi, [ʔut͡ɕinaːɡut͡ɕi]) or Central Okinawan, is a Northern Ryukyuan language spoken primarily in the southern half of the island of Okinawa, as well as in the surrounding islands of Kerama, Kumejima, Tonaki, Aguni and a number of smaller peripheral islands. Central Okinawan distinguishes itself from the speech of Northern Okinawa, which is classified independently as the Kunigami language. Both languages are listed by UNESCO as endangered.
Though Okinawan encompasses a number of local dialects, the Shuri–Naha variant is generally recognized as the de facto standard, as it had been used as the official language of the Ryūkyū Kingdom since the reign of King Shō Shin (1477–1526). Moreover, as the former capital of Shuri was built around the royal palace, the language used by the royal court became the regional and literary standard, which thus flourished in songs and poems written during that era.
Today, most Okinawans speak Okinawan Japanese, although there is a small number who still speaks the Okinawan language, most often the elderly. Within Japan, Okinawan is often not seen as a language unto itself but is referred to as the Okinawan dialect (沖縄方言, Okinawa hōgen) or more specifically the Central and Southern Okinawan dialects (沖縄中南部諸方言, Okinawa Chūnanbu Sho hōgen). Okinawan speakers are undergoing language shift as they switch to Japanese, since language use in Okinawa today is far from stable. Okinawans are assimilating and accenting standard Japanese due to the similarity of the two languages, the standardized and centralized education system, the media, business and social contact with mainlanders and previous attempts from Japan to suppress the native languages. Okinawan is still kept alive in popular music, tourist shows and in theaters featuring a local drama called Uchinā shibai, which depict local customs and manners.
Okinawan is a Japonic language, derived from Proto-Japonic and is therefore related to Japanese. The split between Old Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages has been estimated to have occurred as early as the first century AD to as late as the twelfth century AD. Chinese and Japanese characters were first introduced by a Japanese missionary in 1265.
Ryukyu Kingdom era
Hiragana was much more popular than kanji; poems were commonly written solely in hiragana or with little kanji. Okinawan became the official language under King Shō Shin.
Post-Satsuma to annexation
In 1609, the Ryukyu Kingdom was colonized by the Satsuma Domain in the south of Japan. However, Satsuma did not fully invade the Ryukyu in fear of colliding with China, which had a stronger trading relationship with the Ryukyu at the time.
Japanese annexation to end of World War II
When Ryukyu was annexed by Japan in 1879, the majority of people on Okinawa Island spoke Okinawan. Within ten years, the Japanese government began an assimilation policy of Japanization, where Ryukyuan languages were gradually suppressed. The education system was the heart of Japanization, where Okinawan children were taught Japanese and punished for speaking their native language, being told that their language was just a "dialect". By 1945, many Okinawans spoke Japanese, and many were bilingual. During the Battle of Okinawa, some Okinawans were killed by Japanese soldiers for speaking Okinawan.
Language shift to Japanese in Ryukyu/Okinawa began in 1879 when the Japanese government annexed Ryukyu and established Okinawa Prefecture. The prefectural office mainly consisted of people from Kagoshima Prefecture where the Satsuma Domain used to be. This caused the modernization of Okinawa as well as language shift to Japanese. As a result, Japanese became the standard language for administration, education, media, and literature.
In 1902, the National Language Research Council (国語調査委員会) began the linguistic unification of Japan to Standard Japanese. This caused the linguistic stigmatization of many local varieties in Japan including Okinawan. As the discrimination accelerated, Okinawans themselves started to abandon their languages and shifted to Standard Japanese.
Under American administration, there was an attempt to revive and standardize Okinawan, but this proved difficult and was shelved in favor of Japanese. General Douglas MacArthur attempted to promote Okinawan languages and culture through education. Multiple English words were introduced.
Return to Japan to present day
After Okinawa's reversion to Japanese sovereignty, Japanese continued to be the dominant language used, and the majority of the youngest generations only speak Okinawan Japanese. There have been attempts to revive Okinawan by notable people such as Byron Fija and Seijin Noborikawa, but few native Okinawans desire to learn the language.
Outside of Japan
The Okinawan language is still spoken by communities of Okinawan immigrants in Brazil. The first immigrants from the island of Okinawa to Brazil landed in the Port of Santos in 1908 drawn by the hint of work and farmable land. Once in a new country and far from their homeland, they found themselves in a place where there was no prohibition of their language, allowing them to willingly speak, celebrate and preserve their speech and culture, up to the present day. Currently the Okinawan-Japanese centers and communities in the State of São Paulo are a world reference to this language helping it to stay alive.
Okinawan is sometimes grouped with Kunigami as the Okinawan languages; however, not all linguists accept this grouping, some claiming that Kunigami is a dialect of Okinawan. Okinawan is also grouped with Amami (or the Amami languages) as the Northern Ryukyuan languages.
Dialect of the Japanese language
Since the creation of Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawan has been labeled a dialect of Japanese as part of a policy of assimilation. Later, Japanese linguists, such as Tōjō Misao, who studied the Ryukyuan languages argued that they are indeed dialects. This is due to the misconception that Japan is a homogeneous state (one people, one language, one nation), and classifying the Ryukyuan languages as such would discredit this belief. The present-day official stance of the Japanese government remains that Okinawan is a dialect, and it is common within the Japanese population for it to be called 沖縄方言 (okinawa hōgen) or 沖縄弁 (okinawa-ben), which means "Okinawa dialect (of Japanese)". The policy of assimilation, coupled with increased interaction between Japan and Okinawa through media and economics, has led to the development of Okinawan Japanese, which is a dialect of Japanese influenced by the Okinawan and Kunigami languages.
Dialects of the Ryukyuan language
Okinawan linguist Seizen Nakasone states that the Ryukyuan languages are in fact groupings of similar dialects. As each community has its own distinct dialect, there is no "one language". Nakasone attributes this diversity to the isolation caused by immobility, citing the story of his mother who wanted to visit the town of Nago but never made the 25 km trip before she died of old age.
Its own distinct language
Outside Japan, Okinawan is considered a separate language from Japanese. This was first proposed by Basil Hall Chamberlain, who compared the relationship between Okinawan and Japanese to that of the Romance languages. UNESCO has marked it as an endangered language.
UNESCO listed six Okinawan language varieties as endangered languages in 2009. The endangerment of Okinawan is largely due to the shift to Standard Japanese. Throughout history, Okinawan languages have been treated as dialects of Standard Japanese. For instance, in the 20th century, many schools used "dialect tags" to punish the students who spoke in Okinawan. Consequently, many of the remaining speakers today are choosing not to transmit their languages to younger generations due to the stigmatization of the languages in the past.
There have been several revitalization efforts made to reverse this language shift. However, Okinawan is still poorly taught in formal institutions due to the lack of support from the Okinawan Education Council: education in Okinawa is conducted exclusively in Japanese, and children do not study Okinawan as their second language at school. As a result, at least two generations of Okinawans have grown up without any proficiency in their local languages both at home and school.
|Close||i iː||(ɨ)||u uː|
|Close-Mid||e eː||o oː|
The Okinawan language has five vowels, all of which may be long or short, though the short vowels /e/ and /o/ are quite rare, as they occur only in a few native Okinawan words with heavy syllables with the pattern /Ceɴ/ or /Coɴ/, such as /meɴsoːɾeː/ mensōrē "welcome" or /toɴɸaː/ tonfā. The close back vowels /u/ and /uː/ are truly rounded, rather than the compressed vowels of standard Japanese. A sixth vowel /ɨ/ is sometimes posited in order to explain why sequences containing a historically raised /e/ fail to trigger palatalization as with /i/: */te/ → /tɨː/ tī "hand", */ti/ → /t͡ɕiː/ chī "blood". Acoustically, however, /ɨ/ is pronounced no differently from /i/, possibly because palatalization preceded this vowel shift.
The Okinawan language counts some 20 distinctive segments shown in the chart below, with major allophones presented in parentheses.
|Plosive||p b||t d||t͡ɕ d͡ʑ||kʷ ɡʷ||k ɡ||ʔ|
The only consonant that can occur as a syllable coda is the archiphoneme |n|. Many analyses treat it as an additional phoneme /N/, the moraic nasal, though it never contrasts with /n/ or /m/.
The consonant system of the Okinawan language is fairly similar to that of standard Japanese, but it does present a few differences on the phonemic and allophonic level. Namely, Okinawan retains the labialized consonants /kʷ/ and /ɡʷ/ which were lost in Late Middle Japanese, possesses a glottal stop /ʔ/, features a voiceless bilabial fricative /ɸ/ distinct from the aspirate /h/, and has two distinctive affricates which arose from a number of different sound processes. Additionally, Okinawan lacks the major allophones [t͡s] and [d͡z] found in Japanese, having historically fronted the vowel /u/ to /i/ after the alveolars /t d s z/, consequently merging [t͡su] tsu into [t͡ɕi] chi, [su] su into [ɕi] shi, and both [d͡zu] dzu and [zu] zu into [d͡ʑi] ji. It also lacks /z/ as a distinctive phoneme, having merged it into /d͡ʑ/.
Bilabial and glottal fricatives
The bilabial fricative /ɸ/ has sometimes been transcribed as the cluster /hw/, since, like Japanese, /h/ allophonically labializes into [ɸ] before the high vowel /u/, and /ɸ/ does not occur before the rounded vowel /o/. This suggests that an overlap between /ɸ/ and /h/ exists, and so the contrast in front of other vowels can be denoted through labialization. However, this analysis fails to take account of the fact that Okinawan has not fully undergone the diachronic change */p/ → /ɸ/ → */h/ as in Japanese, and that the suggested clusterization and labialization into */hw/ is unmotivated. Consequently, the existence of /ɸ/ must be regarded as independent of /h/, even though the two overlap. Barring a few words that resulted from the former change, the aspirate /h/ also arose from the odd lenition of /k/ and /s/, as well as words loaned from other dialects. Before the glide /j/ and the high vowel /i/, it is pronounced closer to [ç], as in Japanese.
The plosive consonants /t/ and /k/ historically palatalized and affricated into /t͡ɕ/ before and occasionally following the glide /j/ and the high vowel /i/: */kiri/ → /t͡ɕiɾi/ chiri "fog", and */k(i)jora/ → /t͡ɕuɾa/ chura- "beautiful". This change preceded vowel raising, so that instances where /i/ arose from */e/ did not trigger palatalization: */ke/ → /kiː/ kī "hair". Their voiced counterparts /d/ and /ɡ/ underwent the same effect, becoming /d͡ʑ/ under such conditions: */unaɡi/ → /ʔɴnad͡ʑi/ Qnnaji "eel", and */nokoɡiri/ → /nukud͡ʑiɾi/ nukujiri "saw"; but */kaɡeɴ/ → /kaɡiɴ/ kagin "seasoning".
Both /t/ and /d/ may or may not also allophonically affricate before the mid vowel /e/, though this pronunciation is increasingly rare. Similarly, the fricative consonant /s/ palatalizes into [ɕ] before the glide /j/ and the vowel /i/, including when /i/ historically derives from /e/: */sekai/ → [ɕikeː] shikē "world". It may also palatalize before the vowel /e/, especially so in the context of topicalization: [duɕi] dushi → [duɕeː] dusē or dushē "(topic) friend".
In general, sequences containing the palatal consonant /j/ are relatively rare and tend to exhibit depalatalization. For example, /mj/ tends to merge with /n/ ([mjaːku] myāku → [naːku] nāku "Miyako"); */rj/ has merged into /ɾ/ and /d/ (*/rjuː/ → /ɾuː/ rū ~ /duː/ dū "dragon"); and /sj/ has mostly become /s/ (/sjui/ shui → /sui/ sui "Shuri").
Flapping and fortition
The voiced plosive /d/ and the flap /ɾ/ tend to merge, with the first becoming a flap in word-medial position, and the second sometimes becoming a plosive in word-initial position. For example, /ɾuː/ rū "dragon" may be strengthened into /duː/ dū, and /hasidu/ hashidu "door" conversely flaps into /hasiɾu/ hashiru. The two sounds do, however, still remain distinct in a number of words and verbal constructions.
Okinawan also features a distinctive glottal stop /ʔ/ that historically arose from a process of glottalization of word-initial vowels. Hence, all vowels in Okinawan are predictably glottalized at the beginning of words (*/ame/ → /ʔami/ ami "rain"), save for a few exceptions. High vowel loss or assimilation following this process created a contrast with glottalized approximants and nasal consonants. Compare */uwa/ → /ʔwa/ Qwa "pig" to /wa/ wa "I", or */ine/ → /ʔɴni/ Qnni "rice plant" to */mune/ → /ɴni/ nni "chest".
The moraic nasal /N/ has been posited in most descriptions of Okinawan phonology. Like Japanese, /N/ (transcribed using the small capital /ɴ/) occupies a full mora and its precise place of articulation will vary depending on the following consonant. Before other labial consonants, it will be pronounced closer to a syllabic bilabial nasal [m̩], as in /ʔɴma/ [ʔm̩ma] Qnma "horse". Before velar and labiovelar consonants, it will be pronounced as a syllabic velar nasal [ŋ̍], as in /biɴɡata/ [biŋ̍ɡata] bingata, a method of dying clothes. And before alveolar and alveolo-palatal consonants, it becomes a syllabic alveolar nasal /n̩/, as in /kaɴda/ [kan̩da] kanda "vine". Elsewhere, its exact realization remains unspecified, and it may vary depending on the first sound of the next word or morpheme. In isolation and at the end of utterances, it is realized as a velar nasal [ŋ̍].
Correspondences with Japanese
There is a sort of "formula" for Ryukyuanizing Japanese words: turning e into i, ki into chi, gi into ji, o into u, and -awa into -ā. This formula fits with the transliteration of Okinawa into Uchinā and has been noted as evidence that Okinawan is a dialect of Japanese, however it does not explain unrelated words such as arigatō and nifēdēbiru (for "thank you").
|/k/||/k/||/ɡ/ also occurs|
|/ka/||/ka/||/ha/ also occurs|
|/ku/||/ku/||/hu/, [ɸu] also occurs|
|/si/||/si/||/hi/, [çi] also occurs|
|/su/||/si/||[ɕi]; formerly distinguished as [si]|
/hi/ [çi] also occurs
|/tu/||/t͡ɕi/||[t͡ɕi]; formerly distinguished as [t͡si]|
|/da/||/ra/||[d] and [ɾ] have merged|
|/ni/||/ni/||Moraic /ɴ/ also occurs|
|/ha/||/ɸa/||/pa/ also occurs, but rarely|
|/hi/||/pi/ ~ /hi/|
|/mi/||/mi/||Moraic /ɴ/ also occurs|
|/ri/||/i/||/iri/ is unaffected|
|/wa/||/wa/||Tends to become /a/ medially|
The Okinawan language was historically written using an admixture of kanji and hiragana. The hiragana syllabary is believed to have first been introduced from mainland Japan to the Ryukyu Kingdom some time during the reign of king Shunten in the early thirteenth century. It is likely that Okinawans were already in contact with hanzi (Chinese characters) due to extensive trade between the Ryukyu Kingdom and China, Japan and Korea. However, hiragana gained more widespread acceptance throughout the Ryukyu Islands, and most documents and letters were exclusively transcribed using this script, in contrast to in Japan where writing solely in hiragana was considered "women's script". The Omoro Saushi (おもろさうし), a sixteenth-century compilation of songs and poetry, and a few preserved writs of appointments dating from the same century were written solely in Hiragana. Kanji were gradually adopted due to the growing influence of mainland Japan and to the linguistic affinity between the Okinawan and Japanese languages. However, it was mainly limited to affairs of high importance and to documents sent towards the mainland. The oldest inscription of Okinawan exemplifying its use along with Hiragana can be found on a stone stele at the Tamaudun mausoleum, dating back to 1501.
After the invasion of Okinawa by the Shimazu clan of Satsuma in 1609, Okinawan ceased to be used in official affairs. It was replaced by standard Japanese writing and a form of Classical Chinese writing known as kanbun. Despite this change, Okinawan still continued to prosper in local literature up until the nineteenth century. Following the Meiji Restoration, the Japanese government abolished the domain system and formally annexed the Ryukyu Islands to Japan as the Okinawa Prefecture in 1879. To promote national unity, the government then introduced standard education and opened Japanese-language schools based on the Tokyo dialect. Students were discouraged and chastised for speaking or even writing in the local "dialect", notably through the use of "dialect cards" (方言札). As a result, Okinawan gradually ceased to be written entirely until the American takeover in 1945.
Since then, Japanese and American scholars have variously transcribed the regional language using a number of ad hoc romanization schemes or the katakana syllabary to demarcate its foreign nature with standard Japanese. Proponents of Okinawan tend to be more traditionalist and continue to write the language using hiragana with kanji. In any case, no standard or consensus concerning spelling issues has ever been formalized, so discrepancies between modern literary works are common.
Technically, they are not syllables, but rather morae. Each mora in Okinawan will consist of one or two kana characters. If two, then a smaller version of kana follows the normal sized kana. In each cell of the table below, the top row is the kana (hiragana to the left, katakana to the right of the dot), the middle row in rōmaji (Hepburn romanization), and the bottom row in IPA.
[ɴ] ([n̩], [ŋ̣], [ṃ])
[ʔɴ] ([ʔn̩], [ʔṃ])
Okinawan follows a subject–object–verb word order and makes large use of particles as in Japanese. Okinawan dialects retain a number of grammatical features of classical Japanese, such as a distinction between the terminal form (終止形) and the attributive form (連体形), the genitive function of が ga (lost in the Shuri dialect), the nominative function of ぬ nu (Japanese: の no), as well as honorific/plain distribution of ga and nu in nominative use.
One etymology given for the -un and -uru endings is the continuative form suffixed with uri (Classical Japanese: 居り wori, to be; to exist): -un developed from the terminal form uri; -uru developed from the attributive form uru, i.e.:
- kachuru derives from kachi-uru;
- kachun derives from kachi-uri; and
- yumun (Japanese: 読む yomu, to read) derives from yumi + uri.
A similar etymology is given for the terminal -san and attributive -saru endings for adjectives: the stem suffixed with さ sa (nominalises adjectives, i.e. high → height, hot → heat), suffixed with ari (Classical Japanese: 有り ari, to exist; to have), i.e.:
- takasan (Japanese: 高い takai, high; tall) derives from taka-sa-ari;
- achisan (Japanese: 暑い atsui, hot; warm) derives from atsu-sa-ari; and
- yutasaru (good; pleasant) derives from yuta-sa-aru.
Parts of speech
|Nature of the part of speech in a sentence||Part of speech|
|Independent||No conjugation||Can become a subject||Noun (名詞)|
|Cannot become a subject||Other words come after||Modifies||Modifies a declinable word||Adverb (副詞)|
|Modifies a substantive||Prenominal adjective (連体詞)|
|Other words may not come after||Interjection / exclamation (感動詞)|
|Conjugates||Declinable word||Shows movements||Conclusive form ends in "ん (n)"||Verb (動詞)|
|Shows the property or state||Conclusive form ends in "さん (san)"||Adjective (形容詞)|
|Shows existence or decision of a certain thing||"やん (yan)" attaches to a substantive such as a noun||Existential-identificative verb (存在動詞)|
|Shows state of existence of events||"やん (yan)" attaches to the word that shows state||Adjectival verb (形容動詞)|
|Dependent||Conjugates||Makes up for the meanings of conjugated words||Conclusive form ends in "ん (n)"||Auxiliary Verb (助動詞)|
|No conjugation||Attaches to other words and shows the relationship between words||Particle (助詞)|
|Attaches to the head of a word and adds meaning or makes a new word||Prefix (接頭語)|
|Attaches to the end of a word and adds meaning or makes a new word||Suffix (接尾語)|
Nouns are classified as independent, non-conjugating part of speech that can become a subject of a sentence
Pronouns are classified the same as nouns, except that pronouns are more broad.
|3rd person||Proximal||くり (kuri)||くり (kuri)||くま (kuma)||
||くったー (kuttā)||くったー (kuttā)||くま (kuma)||
|Medial||うり (uri)||うり (uri)||うま (uma)||
||うったー (uttā)||うったー (uttā)||うま (uma)||
|Distal||あり (ari)||あり (ari)||あま (ama)||
||あったー (attā)||あったー (attā)||あま (ama)||
||じる (jiru)||まー (mā)||
||たったー (tattā)||じる (jiru)||まー (mā)||
Adverbs are classified as an independent, non-conjugating part of speech that cannot become a subject of a sentence and modifies a declinable word (用言; verbs, adverbs, adjectives) that comes after the adverb. There are two main categories to adverbs and several subcategories within each category, as shown in the table below.
|Adverbs that shows state or condition|
Anu fitundā hitchī, takkwaimukkwai bikēsōn.
Ano fūfu wa itsumo, yorisotte bakari iru.
|まーるけーてぃ (mārukēti)||たまに (tamani)||Occasionally||
Kwā mārukēti, uya nu kashīshīga ichun.
Kodomo wa tamani, oya no tetsudai ni iku.
|ちゃーき (chāki)||直ぐ (sugu)||Already||
Kunu kurumā chāki, kēyanditōntan.
Kono kuruma wa sugu, kowarete shimatteita.
Yagati, tida nu utiyushiga, unjuō kūn.
Yagate, taiyō ga ochiruga, anata wa konai.
|未だ (nāda)||まだ (mada)||Yet||
Ariga chimō nāda, nōran.
Kanojo no kigen wa mada, naoranai.
|ちゃー (chā)||いつも (itsumo)||Always||
Ama nu inō chā, abitōn.
Asoko no inu wa itsumo, hoeteiru.
|あっとぅむす (attumusu)||急に (kyūni)||Suddenly||
Dushi nu attumusu, hachōtandō.
Tomodachi ga kyūni, kiteitayo.
|まるひーじーや (maruhījīya)||普段は (fudanwa)||Normally||
Tunai nu Sandāsū ya maruhījīya nintidūyuru.
Tonari no Sandā-jī fudanwa neteiru.
|いっとぅちゃー (ittuchā)||しばらくは (shibarakuwa)||A little while||
Ittuchā, jōguchi nji matchōkē.
Shibarakuwa, mon de matteoke.
|Quantity||いふぃ (ifi)||少し (sukoshi)||A little||
Sandā, ifē, yā tamashi kara wakititurasē.
Sandā, sukoshi wa kimi no bun kara waketekure.
|ちゃっさきー (chassakī)||沢山 (takusan)||Many, a lot of||
Usumē ya yama kara chassakī, tamun, muchichēn.
Ojī-san wa yama kara takusan, maki wo mottekitearu.
|はてぃるか (hatiruka)||随分 (zuibun)||A lot||
Chinū ya hatiruka, atchan.
Kinō wa zuibun, aruita.
|ぐゎさない (gwasanai)||わんさか (wansaka)||Abundant||
Wattā haru nkai ya ūjē gwasanai, mandōndō.
Watashitachi no hatake ni wa satōkibi wa wansaka aruyo.
||一杯 (ippai)||A lot||
Nmu yarē, shinmēn nābi nkai mitchakī (mitchakā), andō.
Imo nara ōnabe ni, ippai, aruyo.
|ゆっかりうっさ (yukkariussa)||随分 (zuibun)||A lot||
Ikuman nkai ya churakāgi nu yukkariussa, uyu ndi.
Itoman ni wa bijin ga zuibin, iru sōda.
|うすまさ (usumasa)||恐ろしく (osoroshiku)||Extremely, a lot of||
Gajanbira nkai ya usumasa, gajan nu uyuta ndi.
Gajanbira ni wa osoroshiku, ka ga ita sōda.
|まんたきー (mantakī)||一杯 (ippai)||Full, a lot||
Mijī mantakī, iriti, dajirashiyō.
Mizu wa ippai, irete, taitene.
|なーふぃん (nāfin)||もっと (motto)||More||
Kunu yu nkai mijē, nāfin, nbētikwirē.
Kono oyu ni mizu wo motto, tashitekure.
|軽ってんぐゎ (kattengwa)||少しだけ (sukoshidake)||A little||
Chiyū nu muchiban mēya kattengwa, irititurasē.
Kyō no bentō wa sukoshidake, iretechōdai.
|Degree||でーじな (dējina)||大変 (taihen)||Very||
Unju ga sanshin nu kā ya dējina, jōtō yan'yā
Anata no shamisen no kawa wa taihen, jōtō desune.
|じまま (jimama)||随分 (zuibun)||Fairly, quite||
Wannē wakasainī ya jimama, binchō shan.
Watashi wa wakaikoro wa, zuibun, benkyō shita.
|よねー (yonē)||そんなには (sonnaniwa)||Not too much||
Kundu nu shōgwachi e yonē, yukuraransā.
Kondo no shōgatsu wa, sonnaniwa, yasumenaina.
|いーるく (īruku)||良く (yoku)||Often||
Kunu umi nji e īruku, uijundō.
Kono umi de wa, yoku, oyoguyo.
|にりるか (niriruka)||うんざりするほど (unzarisuruhodo)||To a sickening degree||
Chinū ya niriruka, nī, kayāchan.
Kinō wa, unzarisuruhodo, ni wo hokonda.
|わじるか (wajiruka)||怒るほど (okoruhodo)||To the extent someone gets irritated||
Jirā ga chukutaru shorui ya kachō ga wajiruka, bappētōtan.
Jirā ga tsukutta shorui wa kachō ga okoruhodo, machigetteita.
|あいゆか (aiyuka)||とても (totemo)||Very||
Wannē aiyuka, wata nu yadi, hirakitōtan.
Watashi wa totemo, onaka ga itakute, shagandeita.
|ゆくん (yukun)||余計 (yokei)||Even more||
Ittā yatchī ya yukun, chijiduyaru.
Kimitachi no ani wa yokei, dame da.
|たった (tatta)||余計 (yokei)||Even more||
Jikan nu tachīnē, ari ga yanmē ya tatta, wassanayundō.
Jikan ga tateba, kare no byōki wa yokei, warukunaruyo.
|ちゅふぁーら (chufāra)||一杯 (ippai)||Full, enough||
Munō nā, chufāra, kadan.
Shokuji wa mō, ippai, tabeta.
|あんすかー (ansukā)||それほどは (sorehodowa)||Not so...||
Sū ya sanshin ya ansukā, jōji earan.
Otō-san wa shamisen sorehodowa jōzu dewanai.
|散ん散んとぅ (chinchintu)||散り散りに (chirijirini)||Dispersed, scattered||
Kuma nu mangurā chinchintu du, yā yātaru.
Kono atari wa chirijirini ie ga natta.
|Situation||早く (hēku)||早く (hayaku)||Quickly||
Chū ya hēku, sutiturashiyō.
Kyō wa hayaku, atsumattekureyo.
|ようんなー (younnā)||ゆっくり (yukkuri)||Slowly||
Munō awatiran'youi, younnā, kamē.
Shokuji wa awatezu, yukkuri, tabeyo.
|なんくる (nankuru)||自ずと (onozuto)||Naturally||
Tōnainē, nankuru, jinbunmen njitichūsani.
Iza to nareba, onozuto, chie mo detekuru darō.
|ゆったいくゎったい (yuttaikwattai)||どんぶらこと (donburakoto)||Adverb for something heavy floating down on water||
Kā nu ui nu hata kara magi mumu nu yuttaikwattai, rūritichan.
Kawa no ue no hō kara ōkina momo ga donburakoto, nagaretekita.
|なぐりなぐりとぅ (nagurinaguritu)||なごりなごりと (nagorinagorito)||Reluctantly, Nostalgically||
Nagurinaguritu, wakari nu ēsachi sun.
Nagorinagorito, wakare no aisatsu wo suru.
|しんじんとぅ (shinjintu)||しみじみと (shimijimito)||Nostalgically||
Shinjintu, fushiuta yatin, utatinda.
Shimijimito, fushiuta demo, utattemiyō.
|次第次第 (shidēshidē)||次第に (shidaini)||Gradually||
Tidā irī nkai shidēshidē, utitīchun.
Taiyō wa nishi he shidaini, shizundeiku.
|ちゅらーさ (churāsa)||残らず (nokorazu)||Completely||
Garasā nu chiribukuru, churāsa, kizāchinēran.
Karasu ga gomibukuro, nokorazu, asatteshimatta.
|どぅく (duku)||あまりにも (amarinimo)||Too much, excessively||
Duku, yukushi bikē, shīnē, bachi, kanjun.
Amarinimo, uso bakari tsuitara, batsu ga ataru.
|だんだんだんだん (dandandandan)||段々 (dandan)||Gradually||
Nā fansō nu utu o dandandandan, mashinatōn.
Anata no fue no oto wa dandan, yokunatteiru.
|次第に (shidēni)||次第に (shidaini)||Gradually||
Igaroun, shidēni, tushi, tutan'yā.
Wareware mo shidaini toshi wo totta ne.
|どぅくだら (dukudara)||ひどく (hidoku)||Badly||
Dukudara, himichi shīnē, isa nkai mishirandē.
Hidoku, seki kondara, isha ni misenaito.
|まっすぐ (massugu)||まっすぐ (massugu)||Straight||
Kuma kara ama nkai massugu, ichīnē, umi nkai njiyun.
Koko kara asoko he, massugu, ikuto, umi ni deru.
|まっとうば (mattouba)||正しく (tadashiku)||Correctly||
Nā ya uchināguchē mattouba, chikariyō.
Kimi wa okinawago wo tadashiku tsukatteyo.
|だってぃどぅ (dattidu)||ちゃんと (chanto)||Properly||
Yā ya dattidu, chukuyundō.
Ie wa chanto, tsukurundayo.
|だてん (daten)||きちんと (kichinto)||Neatly||
Anmā ya chū ya daten, sugatōn.
Haha wa kyō wa kichinto, minari wo totonoeteiru.
|さっぱっとぅ (sappattu)||さっぱり (sappari)||Freshly||
Danpachi sāni, sappattu, sōn.
Sanbatsu wo shite, sappari shiteiru.
|しかっとぅ (shikattu)||しっかり (shikkari)||Carefully||
Uya nu yushi, shikattu, chichoukiyō.
Oya no iukoto wo shikkari, kiiteokeyo.
|うかっとぅお (ukattuo)||うかつには (ukatsuniwa)||Thoughtlessly, carelessly||
Anshin, shikennō, ukattuo, ukiraran.
Soredemo, shiken wa ukatsuniwa ukerarenai.
|たった (tatta)||余計 (yokei)||Even more||
Unu yanmē ya nijīnē, tatta, wassanayundō.
Sono byōki wa gaman suru to, yokei, warukunaruyo.
|Adverbs that shows judgement|
|Assumption||むし (mushi)||もし (moshi)||If||
Mushi, ībappēshīnē, icha suka.
Moshi, iimachigaetara, dō suruka.
|たとぅい (tatui)||例え (tatoe)||Even if||
Tatui, ufukaji nu fuchin, kunu yā ya tōoriran.
Tatoe, ōkaze ga fuitemo, kono ie wa taorenai.
|例れー (taturē)||例えば (tatoeba)||For example, if you compare||
Taturē, Uchinā ya Yamatu nu Hawai yasa.
Tatoteba Okinawa wa Nihon no Hawai sa.
|Supposition||いやりん (iyarin)||きっと（いかにも） (kitto (ikanimo))||Indeed, surely||
Iyarin, kunu sūsā ya yanbaru kwēna du yasani.
Kitto (ikanimo), kono tori wa yanbaru kuina nano darōka.
|まさか (masaka)||まさか (masaka)||No way, no idea, unlikely, it is impossible that...||
Masaka, chu shima nkai ichiku nu shimayu ndē, umāntan.
Masaka, onaji mura ni itoko ga sundeiru towa omowanakatta.
|むしや (mushiya)||もしや (moshiya)||By chance||
|むしか (mushika)||もしや (moshiya)||Perhaps||
|まさか (masaka)||まさか (masaka)||No way, no idea, unlikely, it is impossible that...||
Masaka chyuuya umachī ndē umāntan
|あたまに (atamani)||ほんとに (hontoni)||Really (intensifier)||
|Wish||どうでぃん (doudin)||どうか (dōka)||Please||
|たんでぃ (tandi)||どうぞ (dōzo)||Please||
|必じ (kannaji)||必ず (kanarazu)||Always, have to||
|如何しん (chāshin)||どうしても (dōshitemo)||Have to, at any cost||
|Doubt||如何し (chāshi)||どうやって (dōyatte)||How||
|みったい (mittai)||一体 (ittai)||Really||
|あんすか (ansuka)||そんなに (sonnani)||So much, really||
|何んち (nūnchi)||何故 (naze)||Why||
|あちらん (achiran)||一向に (ikkōni)||Completely, at all||
|じょーい (jōi)||絶対 (zettai)||Definitely||
|ちゃっさん (chassan)||度を超して (do o koshite)||Go too far||
|いふぃん (ifin)||少しも (sukoshimo)||At all||
|如何ん (chān)||どうすることも (dōsurukotomo)||Cannot do anything||
|Decision||じゅんに (junni)||本当に (hontōni)||Really, truly||
|必じ (kannaji)||必ず (kanarazu)||Definitely||
|うん如おりー (ungutuorī)||そのような事 (sonoyōnakoto)||Such a thing||
|Others||いちゃんだん (ichandan)||むやみに (muyamini)||Recklessly||
|うったてぃ (uttati)||わざと (wazato)||On purpose||
|なー (nā)||もう (mō)||Already||
Prenominal adjectives (連体詞)
|Prenominal adjectives are classified the same as adverbs, except instead of modifying a declinable word, it modifies a substantive (体言; nouns and pronouns).|
|いぃー (yī)||良い (ii)||good|
|Conjunctions are classified as an independent, non-conjugating part of speech that connects words coming after to words coming before.|
|あんさびーくとぅ (ansabīkutu)||そういうわけですから (sō iu wake desukara)||"For that reason"|
|やくとぅ (yakutu)||だから (dakara)||"So"|
Interjections and exclamations (感動詞)
|Interjections are classified as an independent, non-conjugating part of speech, where it does not modify or connect anything, and other words may not come after it.|
|あい (ai)||おや (oya)||Oh / wow||驚きの気持ちを表す
Expression of surprise
|あきさみよー (akisamiyō)||あらまあ (aramā)||Oh dear||Expression of dismay, concern, or worry|
|あきとーなー (akitōnā)||おやまあ (oyamā)||Oh dear||失敗した時や驚いた時などに発する
Expression of dismay, concern, or worry
|うー (ū)||はい (hai)||Yes||Honorific "yes"|
||All right||Expression of pleasure, joy, or permission|
|はっさみよー (hassamiyō)||おやまあ (oyamā)||Oh dear||呆れ返った時などに発する語|
||Sure enough, As I expected|
Verbs are classified as an independent, conjugating part of speech that shows movements. The conclusive form ends in ん (n).
Adjectives are classified as an independent, conjugating part of speech that shows property or state. The conclusive form ends in さん (san).
存在動詞 are classified as an independent, conjugating part of speech that shows existence or decision of a certain thing. やん (yan) attaches to a substantive.
Adjectival verbs (形容動詞)
Adjectival verbs are classified as an independent, conjugating part of speech that shows the state of existence of events. やん (yan) attaches to words that shows state.
Auxiliary verbs (助動詞)
|Auxiliary verbs are classified as a dependent, conjugating part of speech that makes up the meanings of conjugated words. The conclusive form ends in ん (n).|
|ぎさん (gisan)||そうだ (sōda)|
|ぐとーん (gutōn)||のようだ (noyōda)|
|ぶさん (busan)||したい (shitai)|
|みしぇーびーん (mishēbīn)||なさいます (nasaimasu)|
|みしぇーん (mishēn)||なさる (nasaru)|
|ゆーすん (yūsun)||ことができる (kotogadekiru)|
|Case markers (格助詞)|
|Attaches to a substantive and marks the relationship between other words.|
||が (ga)||Subject marker. Normally ぬ (nu). However, if a pronoun is the subject of the sentence, が (ga) is used. が (ga) can also be used for names. ぬ (nu) can be used for any situation.||
|っし (sshi)||で (de)||Indicates the means by which something is achieved.||
|Ø (Archaic: ゆ (yu))||を (wo)||Modern Okinawan does not use a direct object particle, like casual Japanese speech. "yu" exists mainly in old literary composition.|
|なかい (nakai)||へ (e)・に (ni)||手段・方法|
|やか (yaka)||より (yori)||"as much as"; upper limit||
|さーに (sāni)||で (de)||Indicates the means by which something is achieved.||
|から (kara)||から (kara)||起点|
|んかい (nkai)||へ (e)||"to, in"; direction||
|をぅてぃ (wuti)||Indicates the location where an action pertaining to an animate subject takes place. Derives from the participle form of the verb をぅん wun "to be, to exist".|
|をぅとーてぃ (wutōti)||Progressive form of をぅてぃ, and also includes time.||
|んじ (nji)||で (de)||場所|
|ぬ (nu)||の (no)||Possessive marker. It may be difficult to differentiate between the subject marker ぬ (nu) and possessive marker ぬ (nu).||
|とぅ (tu)||と (to)||相手|
|んでぃ (ndi)||と (to)||Quotative.|
|Adverbial Particles (副助詞)|
|びけー (bikē)||だけ (dake)|
|びけーん (bikēn)||ばかり (bakari)||"only; limit"||
|だき (daki)||だけ (dake)|
|までぃ (madi)||まで (made)||"up to, until, as far as"||
|くれー (kurē)||ぐらい (gurai)||"around, about, approximately"||
|ふどぅ (fudu)||ほど (hodo)|
|あたい (atai)||ぐらい (gurai)等||as much as; upper limit.||
|んちょーん (nchōn)||さえ (sae)|
|うっさ (ussa)||だけ (dake)等|
|うっぴ (uppi)||だけ (dake)等||
|うひ (uhi)||だけ (dake)等|
|さく (saku)||ほど (hodo)、だけ (dake)|
|Binding particles (係助詞)|
|や (ya)||は (wa)||Topic particle for long vowels, proper nouns, or names.
For other nouns, the particle fuses with short vowels. a → ā, i → ē, u → ō, e → ē, o → ō, n → nō. Pronoun 我ん (wan?) (I) becomes topicalized as 我んねー (wannē?) instead of 我んのー (wannō?) or 我んや (wan'ya?), although the latter does appear in some musical or literary works.
|ん (n)||も (mo)||"Also"||
|やてぃん (yatin)||でも (demo)||"even, also in"||
|がん (gan)||でも (demo)||
|ぬん (nun)||でも (demo)||
|しか (shika)||しか (shika)||
|てぃらむん (tiramun)||たるもの (tarumono)||
|Sentence-ending particles (終助詞)|
|か (ka)||Final interrogatory particle||
|み (mi)||か (ka)||Final interrogatory particle||
|がやー (gayā)||かな (kana)||
|さに (sani)||だろう (darō)||
|なー (nā)||の (no)||Final particle expressing 問いかけ・念押し||
|よ (yo)||よ (yo)||
|な (na)||な (na)||Prohibitive||
|さ (sa)||さ (sa)||
|Interjectory Particles (間投助詞)|
|てー (tē)||ね (ne)等||
|なー (nā)||ね (ne)等||
|さり (sari)||ねえ (nē)等||
|Conjunctive particles (接続助詞)|
Question words (疑問詞)
|いくち (ikuchi)||いくつ (ikutsu)||"How much"|
|いち (ichi)||いつ (itsu)||"When"|
|じる (jiru)||どれ (dore)||"Which"|
|たー (tā)||誰 (dare)||"Who"|
|たったー (tattā)||誰々 (daredare)||"Who" (plural)|
|ちゃー (chā)||どう (dō)||"How" (in what way)|
|ぬー (nū)||何 (nani)||"What"|
|ぬーんち (nūnchi)||どうして (dōshite)||"Why"|
|まー (mā)||どこ (doko)||"Where"|
The basic word order is subject–object–verb.
Okinawan is a marked nominative language (with the accusative being unmarked) that also shows minor active–stative variation in intransitive verbs relating to existence or emergence. In existence or emergence verbs, the subject may be optionally unmarked (except for pronouns and proper names, which must be marked with ga), and marked human subjects cannot use ga anymore, but rather always with the often-inanimate marker nu.
Sample text in Standard Okinawan (Shuri-Naha dialect)
Ninjinō tā n 'nmariyagīnā jiyu yai, mata, dū tēshichi ni umuyuru chimu tu dū mamurandiru chimō, tā yatin yunugutu sajakatōru mun yan. Ninjinō mūtu kara īka ni nu sunawatōkutu, tagē ni chōdēyandiru kangēsā ni kutu ni atarandarē naran. (UDHR Article 1)
- Okinawan Japanese, the language most commonly spoken in Okinawa today
- Okinawan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
- Mimizun.com 2005, Comment #658 – 45-CAC-ai comprises most of Central Okinawa, including Shuri (Naha), Ginowan and Nishihara; 45-CAC-aj comprises the southern tip of Okinawa Island, including Itoman, Mabuni and Takamine; 45-CAC-ak encompasses the region west of Okinawa Island, including the Kerama Islands, Kumejima and Aguni.
- Lewis 2009. sfn error: no target: CITEREFLewis2009 (help)
- Moseley 2010.
- Kerr 2000, p. xvii.
- Brown & Ogilvie 2008, p. 908.
- Kaplan 2008, p. 130.
- "The Language of Okinawa: A common misconception". The OkiNinjaKitty Blog. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- Noguchi 2001, p. 87.
- Noguchi 2001, p. 76.
- Hung, Eva and Judy Wakabayashi. Asian Translation Traditions. 2014. Routledge. Pg 18.
- Heinrich, P., Miyara, S., & Shimoji, M. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of the Ryukyuan Languages. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. Pp 598.
- Heinrich, P. (2004). "Language Planning and Language Ideology in the Ryūkyū Islands". Language Policy, 3(2)
- Mie, Ayako (2012-05-19). "Okinawans push to preserve unique language". The Japan Times Online.
- "A little corner of Brazil that is forever Okinawa". BBC News. 2018-02-04.
- Heinrich, Patrick. The Making of Monolingual Japan. 2012. Pp 85–87.
- Nakasone, Seizen. Festschrift. 1962. Pp. 619.
- UNESCO (2009). "Interactive atlas of the world's languages in danger".
- Heinrich, Patrick (2005). "Language loss and revitalization in the Ryukyu Islands". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
- Noguchi & Fotos 2001, p. 81.
- Miyara 2009, p. 179.
- Curry 2004, §22.214.171.124.9.
- Miyara 2009, p. 186.
- Noguchi 2001, p. 83.
- Kodansha 1983, p. 355.
- OPG 2003.
- Kerr 2000, p. 35.
- Takara & 1994-1995, p. 2. sfn error: no target: CITEREFTakara1994-1995 (help)
- WPL 1977, p. 30.
- Ishikawa 2002, p. 10.
- Okinawa Style 2005, p. 138.
- Tanji 2006, p. 26.
- Shimoji, Michinori (2018). "Okinawan". In Hasegawa, Yoko (ed.). The Cambridge Handbook of Japanese Linguistics. Cambridge Handbooks of Linguistics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 104–107. doi:10.1017/9781316884461. ISBN 9781316884461.
- (in Japanese) "民族、言語、人種、文化、区別スレ". Mimizun.com. 2005-08-31. Retrieved 2010-12-26.[unreliable source?]
- Moseley, Christopher (2010). "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger" (3rd ed.). UNESCO Publishing. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- Kerr, George H. (2000). Okinawa, the history of an island people. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-2087-5.
- Brown, Keith; Ogilvie, Sarah (2008). Concise encyclopedia of languages of the world. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-08-087774-7.
- Kaplan, Robert B. (2008). Language Planning and Policy in Asia: Japan, Nepal, Taiwan and Chinese characters. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 978-1-84769-095-1.
- Noguchi, Mary Goebel; Fotos, Sandra (2001). Proto-Japanese: issues and prospects. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 978-1-85359-490-8.
- Miyara, Shinsho (2009). "Two Types of Nasal in Okinawa" (PDF). 言語研究（Gengo Kenkyu）. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
- Curry, Stewart A. (2004). Small Linguistics: Phonological history and lexical loans in Nakijin dialect Okinawan. Ph.D. - East Asian Languages and Literatures (Japanese), University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- Takara, Kurayoshi (1994–1995). "King and Priestess: Spiritual and Political Power in Ancient Ryukyu" (PDF). The Ryukyuanist (27). Retrieved 2011-01-23.
- Ishikawa, Takeo (April 2002). 新しいまちづくり豊見城市 (PDF). しまてぃ (in Japanese) (21). Retrieved 2011-03-14.[permanent dead link]
- (in Japanese) Worldwide Heritages in Okinawa: Tamaudun. 沖縄スタイル. 枻出版社. 2005-07-10. ISBN 978-4-7779-0333-7. Retrieved 2011-03-14.[unreliable source?]
- Kodansha – encyclopedia of Japan. 6. Kodansha. 1983. ISBN 978-0-87011-626-1.
- Working papers in linguistics. 9. Dept. of Linguistics, University of Hawaii. 1977.[unreliable source?]
- "King Shunten 1187-1237". Okinawa Prefectural Government. 2003. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- Tanji, Miyume (2006). Myth, protest and struggle in Okinawa. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-36500-0.
- Noguchi, M.G. (2001). Studies in Japanese Bilungualism. Multilingual Matters Ltd. ISBN 978-1853594892.
- Davis, Christopher (2013). "The Role of Focus Particles in Wh-Interrogatives: Evidence from a Southern Ryukyuan Language" (PDF). University of the Ryukyus. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-20. Retrieved 2014-04-19.
|Okinawan language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|Okinawan language repository of Wikisource, the free library|