Okinawan language

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Okinawan
沖縄口/ウチナーグチ Uchinaaguchi
Pronunciation[ʔut͡ɕinaːɡut͡ɕi]
Native toJapan
RegionOkinawa Islands
Native speakers
400,000 (2000)[1]
Okinawan, Japanese, Rōmaji
Language codes
ISO 639-3ryu
Glottologcent2126[2]
Linguasphere45-CAC-ai
45-CAC-aj
45-CAC-ak[3]
Boundaries of the Okinawan Languages.svg
  South–Central Okinawan, or Shuri–Naha
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Okinawan language (沖縄口/ウチナーグチ Uchinaaguchi [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.[4] Central Okinawan distinguishes itself from the speech of Northern Okinawa, which is classified independently as the Kunigami language. Both languages have been designated as endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger since its launch in February 2009.[5]

Though Okinawan encompasses a number of local dialects,[6] the Shuri-Naha variant is generally recognized as the de facto standard,[7] as it had been used as the official language of the Ryūkyū Kingdom[8] 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,[8][7] which thus flourished in songs and poems written during that era.

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, standardized and centralized education system, the media, and business and social contact with mainlanders.[9] Okinawan is still spoken by many older people. It is also kept alive in popular music, tourist shows, and in theaters featuring a local drama called uchinaa shibai, which depict local customs and manners.[10]

History[edit]

Pre-Ryukyu Kingdom

Okinawan is a Japonic language, derived from Proto-Japonic. 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.[11]

Ryukyu Kingdom Era
Pre-Satsuma
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
After Ryukyu became a vassal of Satsuma Domain, kanji gained more prominence in poetry; however, official Ryukyuan documents were written in Classical Chinese.
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.[12]
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.[12]

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.[12]

American Occupation

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.[13] 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.[14]

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 Sao Paulo are a world reference to this language helping it to stay alive.[15]

Classification[edit]

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.[12] 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.[16] 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.

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.[17]

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.

Sociolinguistics[edit]

UNESCO listed six Okinawan language varieties as endangered languages in 2009.[18] 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.[19] Consequently, many of the remaining speakers today are choosing not to transmit their languages to younger generation due to the stigmatization of the languages in the past.[12]

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.[12]

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Front Central Back
Close i (ɨ) u
Close-Mid e o
Open a

The Okinawan language has five vowels, all of which may be long or short, though the short vowels /e/ and /o/ are quite rare,[20] as they occur only in a few native Okinawan words with heavy syllables with the pattern /Ceɴ/ or /Coɴ/, such as /meɴsoːɾeː/ mensooree "welcome" or /toɴɸaː/ tonfaa. 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/ tii "hand", */ti//t͡ɕiː/ chii "blood". Acoustically, however, /ɨ/ is pronounced no differently from /i/, possibly because palatalization preceded this vowel shift.

Consonants[edit]

The Okinawan language counts some 20 distinctive segments shown in the chart below, with major allophones presented in parentheses.

IPA chart of Okinawan consonants
Labial Alveolar Alveolo-
palatal
Palatal Labio-
velar
Velar Glottal
Nasal m n (ŋ)
Plosive p   b t   d t͡ɕ   d͡ʑ   ɡʷ k   ɡ ʔ
Fricative ɸ s  (z) (ɕ) (ç) h
Flap ɾ
Approximant j w

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] and [zu] into [d͡ʑi]. 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.[21] 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.
Palatalization
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/ kii "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] shikee "world". It may also palatalize before the vowel /e/, especially so in the context of topicalization: [duɕi] dushi[duɕeː] dusee or dushee "(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] myaaku[naːku] naaku "Miyako"); */rj/ has merged into /ɾ/ and /d/ (*/rjuː//ɾuː/ ruu ~ /duː/ duu "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/ ruu "dragon" may be strengthened into /duː/ duu, 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.
Glottal stop
Okinawan also features a distinctive glottal stop /ʔ/ that historically arose from a process of glottalization of word-initial vowels.[22] 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.[22] Compare */uwa//ʔwa/ qwa "pig" to /wa/ wa "I", or */ine//ʔɴni/ qnni "rice plant" to */mune//ɴni/ nni "chest".[23]
Moraic nasal
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] qmma "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[edit]

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 -aa. This formula fits with the transliteration of Okinawa into Uchinaa and has been noted as evidence that Okinawan is a dialect of Japanese, however it does not explain unrelated words such as arigatō and nifeedeebiru (for "thank you").

Japanese Okinawan Notes
/e/ /iː/[24]
/i/
/a/ /a/[24]
/o/ /u/[24]
/u/
/ai/ /eː/
/ae/
/au/ /oː/
/ao/
/aja/
/k/ /k/ /ɡ/ also occurs
/ka/ /ka/ /ha/ also occurs
/ki/ /t͡ɕi/ [t͡ɕi]
/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 [tsi]
/da/ /ra/ [d] and [ɾ] have merged
/de/ /ri/
/do/ /ru/
/ni/ /ni/ Moraic /ɴ/ also occurs
/nu/ /nu/
/ha/ /ɸa/ /pa/ also occurs, but rarely
/hi/ /pi/ ~ /hi/
/he/
/mi/ /mi/ Moraic /ɴ/ also occurs
/mu/ /mu/
/ri/ /i/ /iri/ unaffected
/wa/ /wa/ Tends to become /a/ medially

Orthography[edit]

The Tamaoton no Hinomon (玉陵の碑文), referred to as the Tamaudun no Hinomon in modern Japanese, is the oldest known inscription of Okinawan using both hiragana and kanji.

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.[25][26] 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,[27] and a few preserved writs of appointments dating from the same century were written solely in Hiragana.[28] Kanji were gradually adopted due to the growing influence of mainland Japan and to the linguistic affinity between the Okinawan and Japanese languages.[29] 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.[30][31]

After the invasion of Okinawa by the Shimazu clan of Satsuma in 1609, Okinawan ceased to be used in official affairs.[25] It was replaced by standard Japanese writing and a form of Classical Chinese writing known as kanbun.[25] 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.[32] To promote national unity, the government then introduced standard education and opened Japanese-language schools based on the Tokyo dialect.[32] 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.

Syllabary

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.

Vowel
Consonant
a i u e o ya yi yu ye yo wa wi wu we wo n
(none) あ・ア
a
[a]
い・イ
i
[i]
う・ウ
u
[u]
え・エ
e
[e]
お・オ
o
[o]
や・ヤ
ya
[ja]
いぃ・イィ
yi
[ji]
ゆ・ユ
yu
[ju]
えぇ・エェ
ye
[je]
よ・ヨ
yo
[jo]
わ・ワ
wa
[wa]
ゐ・ヰ
wi
[wi]
をぅ・ヲゥ
wu
[wu]
ゑ・ヱ
we
[we]
を・ヲ
wo
[wo]
ん・ン
n
[ɴ] ([n̩], [ŋ̣], [ṃ])
Q
(glottal stop)
あ・ア
Qa
[ʔa]
い・イ
Qi
[ʔi]
う・ウ
Qu
[ʔu]
え・エ
Qe
[ʔe]
お・オ
Qo
[ʔo]
っや・ッヤ
Qya
[ʔʲa]
っゆ・ッユ
Qyu
[ʔʲu]
っよ・ッヨ
Qyo
[ʔʲo]
っわ・ッワ
Qwa
[ʔʷa]
っゐ・ッヰ
Qwi
[ʔʷi]
っゑ・ッヱ
Qwe
[ʔʷe]
っを・ッヲ
Qwo
[ʔʷo]
っん・ッン
Qn
[ʔɴ] ([ʔn̩], [ʔṃ])
k か・カ
ka
[ka]
き・キ
ki
[ki]
く・ク
ku
[ku]
け・ケ
ke
[ke]
こ・コ
ko
[ko]
きゃ・キャ
kya
[kʲa]
きゅ・キュ
kyu
[kʲu]
きょ・キョ
kyo
[kʲo]
くゎ・クヮ
kwa
[kʷa]
くぃ・クィ
kwi
[kʷi]
くぇ・クェ
kwe
[kʷe]
くぉ・クォ
kwo
[kʷo]
g が・ガ
ga
[ga]
ぎ・ギ
gi
[gi]
ぐ・グ
gu
[gu]
げ・ゲ
ge
[ge]
ご・ゴ
go
[go]
ぎゃ・ギャ
gya
[gʲa]
ぎゅ・ギュ
gyu
[gʲu]
ぎょ・ギョ
gyo
[gʲo]
ぐゎ・グヮ
gwa
[gʷa]
ぐぃ・グィ
gwi
[gʷi]
ぐぇ・グェ
gwe
[gʷe]
ぐぉ・グォ
gwo
[gʷo]
s さ・サ
sa
[sa]
すぃ・スィ
si
[si]
す・ス
su
[su]
せ・セ
se
[se]
そ・ソ
so
[so]
sh しゃ・シャ
sha
[ɕa]
し・シ
shi
[ɕi]
しゅ・シュ
shu
[ɕu]
しぇ・シェ
she
[ɕe]
しょ・ショ
sho
[ɕo]
z ざ・ザ
za
[za]
ずぃ・ズィ
zi
[zi]
ず・ズ
zu
[zu]
ぜ・ゼ
ze
[ze]
ぞ・ゾ
zo
[zo]
j じゃ・ジャ
(ぢゃ・ヂャ)
ja
[dʑa]
じ・ジ
(ぢ・ヂ)
ji
[dʑi]
じゅ・ヂュ
(ぢゅ・ヂュ)
ju
[dʑu]
じぇ・ジェ
(ぢぇ・ヂェ)
je
[dʑe]
じょ・ジョ
(ぢょ・ヂョ)
jo
[dʑo]
t た・タ
ta
[ta]
てぃ・ティ
ti
[ti]
とぅ・トゥ
tu
[tu]
て・テ
te
[te]
と・ト
to
[to]
d だ・ダ
da
[da]
でぃ・ディ
di
[di]
どぅ・ドゥ
du
[du]
で・デ
de
[de]
ど・ド
do
[do]
ts つぁ・ツァ
tsa
[tsa]
つぃ・ツィ
tsi
[tsi]
つ・ツ
tsu
[tsu]
つぇ・ツェ
tse
[tse]
つぉ・ツォ
tso
[tso]
ch ちゃ・チャ
cha
[tɕa]
ち・チ
chi
[tɕi]
ちゅ・チュ
chu
[tɕu]
ちぇ・チェ
che
[tɕe]
ちょ・チョ
cho
[tɕo]
ya yu yo
n な・ナ
na
[na]
に・ニ
ni
[ni]
ぬ・ヌ
nu
[nu]
ね・ネ
ne
[ne]
の・ノ
no
[no]
にゃ・ニャ
nya
[ɲa]
にゅ・ニュ
nyu
[ɲu]
にょ・ニョ
nyo
[ɲo]
long vowel double consonant
〜(あ、い、う、え、お)・ー
~(a, i, u, e, o)
~[Vː]
っ・ッ
(Any consonant)
[Cː]
h は・ハ
ha
[ha]
ひ・ヒ
hi
[çi]
へ・ヘ
he
[he]
ほ・ホ
ho
[ho]
ひゃ・ヒャ
hya
[ça]
ひゅ・ヒュ
hyu
[çu]
ひょ・ヒョ
hyo
[ço]
f ふぁ・ファ
fa
[ɸa]
ふぃ・フィ
fi
[ɸi]
ふ・フ
fu/hu
[ɸu]
ふぇ・フェ
fe
[ɸe]
ふぉ・フォ
fo
[ɸo]
b ば・バ
ba
[ba]
び・ビ
bi
[bi]
ぶ・ブ
bu
[bu]
べ・ベ
be
[be]
ぼ・ボ
bo
[bo]
p ぱ・パ
pa
[pa]
ぴ・ピ
pi
[pi]
ぷ・プ
pu
[pu]
ぺ・ペ
pe
[pe]
ぽ・ポ
po
[po]
m ま・マ
ma
[ma]
み・ミ
mi
[mi]
む・ム
mu
[mu]
め・メ
me
[me]
も・モ
mo
[mo]
みゃ・ミャ
mya
[mʲa]
みゅ・ミュ
myu
[mʲu]
みょ・ミョ
myo
[mʲo]
r ら・ラ
ra
[ɾa]
り・リ
ri
[ɾi]
る・ル
ru
[ɾu]
れ・レ
re
[ɾe]
ろ・ロ
ro
[ɾo]
りゃ・リャ
rya
[ɾʲa]
りゅ・リュ
ryu
[ɾʲu]
りょ・リョ
ryo
[ɾʲo]

Grammar[edit]

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 ga (lost in the Shuri dialect), the nominative function of nu (Japanese: no), as well as honorific/plain distribution of ga and nu in nominative use.

書く kaku
to write
Classical Shuri
Irrealis 未然形 書か kaka- kaka-
Continuative 連用形 書き kaki- kachi-
Terminal 終止形 書く kaku kachun
Attributive 連体形 書く kaku kachuru
Realis 已然形 書け kake- kaki-
Imperative 命令形 書け kake kaki

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 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[edit]

Nature of the Part of Speech in a Sentence Part of Speech
Independent No Conjugation Can become a subject Noun (名詞)
Pronoun (代名詞)
Cannot become a subject Other words come after Modifies Modifies a declinable word Adverb (副詞)
Modifies a substantive Prenominal Adjective (連体詞)
Connects Conjunction (接続詞)
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 (名詞)

Nouns are classified as independent, non-conjugating part of speech that can become a subject of a sentence

Pronouns (代名詞)

Pronouns are classified the same as nouns, except that pronouns are more broad.

Okinawan Pronouns
Singular Plural
Personal Demonstrative Personal Demonstrative
Thing Place Direction Thing Place Direction
1st Person
  • 我ん (wan)
  • わみ (wami)
  • 我達 (wattaa)
  • いがろー (igarou)
2nd Person
  • やー (yaa)
  • やーみ (yaami)
  • なー (naa)
  • なーみ (naami)
  • 御所 (unnjyu)
  • いったー (ittaa)
  • なったー (nattaa)
  • うんじゅなーたー (unjyunaataa)
3rd Person Proximal くり (kuri) くり (kuri) くま (kuma)
  • くま (kuma)
  • くがた (kugata)
くったー (kuttaa) くったー (kuttaa) くま (kuma)
  • くま (kuma)
  • くがた (kugata)
Medial うり (uri) うり (uri) うま (uma)
  • うま (uma)
  • うがた (ugata)
うったー (uttaa) うったー (uttaa) うま (uma)
  • うま (uma)
  • うがた (ugata)
Distal あり (ari) あり (ari) あま (ama)
  • あま (ama)
  • あがた (agata)
あったー (attaa) あったー (attaa) あま (ama)
  • あま (ama)
  • あがた (agata)
Indefinite
  • たー (taa)
  • (ta)
じる (jiru) まー (maa)
  • まー (maa)
  • まーかた (maakata)
たったー (tattaa) じる (jiru) まー (maa)
  • まー (maa)
  • まーかた (maakata)

Adverbs (副詞)

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.

Okinawan Adverbs
Adverbs that shows state or condition
Shows... Okinawan Japanese English Example
Time ひっちー (hicchii) しょっちゅう (shocchuu)
いつも (itsumo)
始終 (shijyuu)
Always
  • あぬ夫婦ふぃとぅんだー ひっちー、たっくゎいむっくゎいびけーそーん。

Anu fitundaa hicchii, takkwaimukkwai bikeesoon.

  • あの夫婦はいつも、寄り添ってばかりいる。

Ano fuufu wa itsumo, yorisotte bakari iru.

  • That couple is always sticking close.
まーるけえてぃ (maarukeeti) たまに (tamani) Occasionally
  • くゎー まーるけーてぃうや加勢かしーしーが行ちゅん。

Kwaa maarukeeti, uya nu kashiishiga ichun.

  • 子供はたまに、親の手伝いに行く。

Kodomo wa tamani, oya no tetsudai ni iku.

  • The kid occasionally goes to help his/her parent.
ちゃーき (chaaki) 直ぐ (sugu) Already
  • くぬ車ーちゃーき、けーやんでぃとーんたん。

Kunu kurumaa chaaki, keeyanditoontan.

  • この車は直ぐ、壊れてしまっていた。

Kono kuruma wa sugu, kowarete shimatteita.

  • This car broke already.
やがてぃ (yagati) やがて Shortly
  • やがてぃ太陽てぃだてぃゆしが、御所うんじゅおーうん。

Yagati, tida nu utiyushiga, unjuoo kuun.

  • やがて、太陽が落ちるが、あなたはこない。

Yagate, taiyou ga ochiruga, anata wa konai.

  • The sun will disappear shortly, but you are not here.
未だ (naada) まだ (mada) Yet
  • 彼女ありが ちもー なーのーらん。

Ariga chimoo naada, nooran.

  • 彼女の機嫌はまだ、直らない。

Kanojo no kigen wa mada, naoranai.

  • Her mood has yet to become better.
ちゃー (chaa) いつも (itsumo) Always
  • あまぬいのー ちゃー、あびとーん。

Ama nu inoo chaa, abitoon.

  • あそこの犬はいつも、吠えている。

Asoko no inu wa itsumo, hoeteiru.

  • The dog over there is always barking.
ちゅてーや (chuteeya) 少しは (sukoshiwa) A little
  • ちゅてーや、待っちょーきよー。

Chuteeya, macchookiyoo.

  • 少しは、待っておいてよ。

Sukoshiwa, matteoiteyo.

  • Wait a little.
あっとぅむす (attumusu) 急に (kyuuni) Suddenly
  • どぅしぬ あっとぅむす、はっょーたんどお。

Dushi nu attumusu, hachootandoo.

  • 友達が急に、来ていたよ。

Tomodachi ga kyuuni, kiteitayo.

  • My friend suddenly came.
まるひーじーや (maruhiijiiya) 普段は (fudanwa) Normally
  • とぅない三郎主さんだーすーや まるひーじーや んてぃどぅゆる。

Tunai nu Sandaasuu ya maruhiijiiya nintiduuyuru.

  • 隣の三郎爺は普段は寝ている。

Tonari no Sandaa-jii fudanwa neteiru.

  • Sanda is normally sleeping.
いっとぅちゃー (ittuchaa) しばらくは (shibarakuwa) A little while
  • いっとぅちゃー門口じょーぐちんじ っちょーけー。

Ittuchaa, jooguchi nji macchookee.

  • しばらくは、門で待っておけ。

Shibarakuwa, mon de matteoke.

  • Wait at the gate a little while.
Quantity いふぃ (ifi) 少し (sukoshi) A little
  • 三郎さんだーいふぃえー、やあたましから 分きてぃとぅらせー。

Sandaa, ifi ee, yaa tamashi kara wakititurasee.

  • 三郎、少しは君の分から分けてくれ。

Sandaa, sukoshi wa kimi no bun kara waketekure.

  • Sanda, please share a little bit of yours.
ちゃっさきー (chassakii) 沢山 (takusan) Many, a lot of
  • 御主前うすめーや 山から ちゃっさきーたむんぇーん。

Usumee ya yama kara chassakii, tamun, muchicheen.

  • お爺さんは山から沢山、薪を持ってきてある。

Ojii-san wa yama kara takusan, maki wo mottekitearu.

  • The old man brought a lot of firewood.
はてぃるか (hatiruka) 随分 (zuibun) A lot
  • 昨日ちぬーや はてぃるかっちゃん。

Chinuu ya hatiruka, acchan.

  • 昨日は随分、歩いた。

Kinou wa zuibun, aruita.

  • I walked a lot yesterday.
ぐゎさない (gwasanai) わんさか (wansaka) Abundant
  • わったーはるんかいや うーじぇー ぐゎさない、まんどーんどー。

Wattaa haru nkai ya uujee gwasanai, mandoondoo.

  • 私達の畑には砂糖黍はわんさかあるよ。

Watashitachi no hatake ni wa satoukibi wa wansaka aruyo.

  • We have abundant sugar cane in our farm.
満っちゃきー (micchakii)
満っちゃかー (micchakaa)
一杯 (ippai) A lot
  • んむやれー、しんめーんなーびんかい っちゃきーっちゃかー)、あんどー。

Nmu yaree, shinmeen naabi nkai micchakii (micchakaa), andoo.

  • 芋なら大鍋に、一杯、あるよ。

Imo nara oonabe ni, ippai, aruyo.

  • We have a lot of potatoes in the big pot.
ゆっかりうっさ (yukkariussa) 随分 (zuibun) A lot
  • 糸満いくまんんかいや ちゅかーぎぬ ゆっかりうっさゆんでぃ。

Ikuman nkai ya churakaagi nu yukkariussa, uyu ndi.

  • 糸満には美人が随分、いるそうだ。

Itoman ni wa bijin ga zuibin, iru souda.

  • I heard that there are a lot of beautiful women in Itoman.
うすまさ (usumasa) 恐ろしく (osoroshiku) Extremely, a lot of
  • がじゃんびらんかいや うすまさ、がじゃんぬゆたんでぃ。

Gajanbira nkai ya usumasa, gajan nu uyuta ndi.

  • ガジャンビラには恐ろしく、蚊がいたそうだ。

Gajanbira ni wa osoroshiku, ka ga ita souda.

  • I heard that there were a lot of mosquitoes in Gajanbira.
まんたきー (mantakii) 一杯 (ippai) Full, a lot
  • みじー まんたきーりてぃ、たじらしよー。

Mijii mantakii, iriti, dajirashiyoo.

  • 水は一杯、入れて、焚いてね。

Mizu wa ippai, irete, taitene.

  • Put full of water and heat it.
なーふぃん (naafin) もっと (motto) More
  • くぬ湯んかいみじぇーなーふぃん、んべーてぃくぃれー。

Kunu yu nkai mijee, naafin, nbeetikwiree.

  • このお湯に水をもっと、足してくれ。

Kono oyu ni mizu wo motto, tashitekure.

  • Add more water to this hot water.
軽ってんぐゎ (kattengwa) 少しだけ (sukoshidake) A little
  • 今日ちゅー持飯むちばんめーや ってんぐゎりてぃとぅらせー。

Chiyuu nu muchiban meeya kattengwa, irititurasee.

  • 今日の弁当は少しだけ、入れてちょうだい。

Kyou no bentou wa sukoshidake, iretechoudai.

  • Please give me just a little for today’s bento.
Degree でーじな (deejina) 大変 (taihen) Very
  • 御所うんじゅが 三線さんしんかーや でーじな上等じょーとーやんやー。

Unju ga sanshin nu kaa ya deejina, jootoo yanyaa

  • あなたの三味線の皮は大変、上等ですね。

Anata no shamisen wa taihen, joutou desune.

  • The leather of your shamisen (traditional musical instrument in Okinawa) is expensive.
じまま (jimama) 随分 (zuibun) Fairly, quite
  • んねー 若さいにーや じまま勉強びんちょーしゃん。

Wan'nee wakasainii ya jimama, binchoo shan.

  • 私は若い頃は、随分、勉強した。

Watashi wa wakaikoro wa, zuibun, benkyou shita.

  • When I was young, I used to study quite a lot.
よねー (yonee) そんなには (son'naniwa) Not too much
  • 今度くんどぅ正月しょーぐゎちえ よねー、ゆくららんさー。

Kundu nu shoogwachi e yonee, yukuraransaa.

  • 今度の正月は、そんなには、休めないな。

Kondo no shougatsu wa, son'naniwa, yasumenaina.

  • I cannot rest too much during this New Year’s celebration.
いーるく (iiruku) 良く (yoku) Often
  • くぬ海んじえ いーるくういじゅんどー。

Kunu umi nji e iiruku, uijundoo.

  • この海では、良く、泳ぐよ。

Kono umi de wa, yoku, oyoguyo.

  • I often swim in this ocean.
にりるか (niriruka) うんざりするほど (unzarisuruhodo) To a sickening degree
  • 昨日ちぬーや にりるかにー、かやーちゃん。

Chinuu ya niriruka, nii, kayaachan.

  • 昨日は、うんざりするほど、荷を運んだ。

Kinou wa, unzarisuruhodo, ni wo hokonda.

  • I carried luggage to a sickening degree yesterday.
わじるか (wajiruka) 怒るほど (okoruhodo) To the extent someone gets irritated
  • 次郎じらーが ちゅくたる書類や 課長かちょーが わじるか間違ばっぺーとーたん。

Jiraa ga chukutaru shorui ya kachoo ga wajiruka, bappeetootan.

  • 次郎が作った書類は課長が怒るほど、間違っていた。

Jiraa ga tsukutta shorui wa kachou ga okoruhodo, machigetteita.

  • The documents that Jira made had so many errors that the department chief got irritated.
あいゆか (aiyuka) とても (totemo) Very
  • んねー あいゆかわたでぃ、ひらきとーたん。

Wan'nee aiyuka, wata nu yadi, hirakitootan.

  • 私はとても、お腹が痛くて、しゃがんでいた。

Watashi wa totemo, onaka ga itakute, shagandeita.

  • I had a very bad stomach ache and was squatting down.
ゆくん (yukun) 余計 (yokei) Even more
  • いったーやっちいや ゆくん、ちじどぅやる。

Ittaa yacchii ya yukun, chijiduyaru.

  • 君達の兄は余計、駄目だ。

Kimitachi no ani wa yokei, dame da.

  • Your brother is even worse.
たった (tatta) 余計 (yokei) Even more
  • 時間ぬちいねー、ありが やんめーや たったっさなゆんどー。

Jikan nu tachiinee, ari ga yanmee ya tatta, wassanayundoo.

  • 時間が経てば、彼の病気は余計、悪くなるよ。

Jikan ga tateba, kare no byouki wa yokei, warukunaruyo.

  • If you wait longer, his illness will be even worse.
ちゅふぁーら (chufaara) 一杯 (ippai) Full, enough
  • むのー なー、ちゅふぁーらだん。

Munoo naa, chufaara, kadan.

  • 食事はもう、一杯、食べた。

Shokuji wa mou, ippai, tabeta.

  • I have already had enough food
あんすかー (ansukaa) それほどは (sorehodowa) Not so...
  • すーや 三線さんしんや あんすかー上手じょーじえあらん。

Suu ya sanshin ya ansukaa, jooji earan.

  • お父さんは三味線はそれほどは、上手ではない。

Otou-san wa shamisen sorehodowam jouzu dewanai.

  • Father is not so good at shamisen.
散ん散んとぅ (chinchintu) 散り散りに (chirijirini) Dispersed, scattered
  • くまぬまんぐらー んとぅどぅ、やーやーたる。

Kuma nu manguraa chinchintu du, yaa yaataru.

  • この辺りは散り散りに家がなった。

Kono atari wa chirijirini ie ga natta.

  • Houses were scattered in this area.
Situation 早く (heeku) 早く (hayaku) Quickly
  • 今日ちゅーや へーてぃとぅらしよー。

Chuu ya heeku, sutiturashiyoo.

  • 今日は早く、集まってくれよ。

Kyou wa hayaku, atsumattekureyo.

  • Please gather quickly today.
ようんなー (youn'naa) ゆっくり (yukkuri) Slowly
  • むのー慌てぃらんようい、ようんなーめー。

Munoo awatiranyoui, youn'naa, kamee.

  • 食事は慌てず、ゆっくり、食べよ。

Shokuji wa awatezu, yukkuri, tabeyo.

  • Don’t rush when you eat, eat slowly.
なんくる (nankuru) 自ずと (onozuto) Naturally
  • とーないねー、なんくる、じんぶんぬん じてぃゅーさに。

Toonainee, nankuru, jinbunmen njitichuusani.

  • いざとなれば、自ずと、知恵も出てくるだろう。

Iza to nareba, onozuto, chie mo detekuru darou.

  • When the time comes, ideas will automatically come to our minds.
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
  • かーういはたから まぎむむぬ ゆったいくゎったいるーりてぃゃん。

Kaa nu ui nu hata kara magi mumu nu yuttaikwattai, ruuritichan.

  • 川の上の方から大きな桃がどんぶらこと、流れて来た。

Kawa no ue no hou kara ookina momo ga donburakoto, nagaretekita.

  • A giant peach came floating down the river.
なぐりなぐりとぅ (nagurinaguritu) なごりなごりと (nagorinagorito) Reluctantly, Nostalgically
  • なぐりなぐりとぅ、別りぬ挨拶えーさちすん。

Nagurinaguritu, wakari nu eesachi sun.

  • なごりなごりと、別れの挨拶をする。

Nagorinagorito, wakare no aisatsu wo suru.

  • We said good bye reluctantly.
しんじんとぅ (shinjintu) しみじみと (shimijimito) Nostalgically
  • しんじんとぅ、節歌やてぃん、歌てぃんだ。

Shinjintu, fushiuta yatin, utatinda.

  • しみじみと、節歌でも、歌ってみよう。

Shimijimito, fushiuta demo, utattemiyou.

  • Let’s sing a traditional song nostalgically.
次第次第 (shideeshidee) 次第に (shidaini) Gradually
  • 太陽てぃだー 西いりーんかい 次第次第しでーしでーてぃてぃ行ちゅん。

Tidaa irii nkai shideeshidee, utitiichun.

  • 太陽は西へ次第に、沈んで行く。

Taiyou wa nishi he shidaini, shizundeiku.

  • The sun gradually sets to the west.
ちゅらーさ (churaasa) 残らず (nokorazu) Completely
  • がらさーぬ ちりぶくるちゅらーさ、きざあちねーらん。

Garasaa nu chiribukuru, churaasa, kizaachineeran.

  • 烏がゴミ袋を、残らず、漁ってしまった。

Karasu ga gomibukuro, nokorazu, asatteshimatta.

  • The crows completely rummaged through the garbage bags.
どぅく (duku) あまりにも (amarinimo) Too much, excessively
  • どぅく、ゆくしびけー、しーねー、ばちかんじゅん。

Duku, yukushi bikee, shiinee, bachi, kanjun.

  • あまりにも、嘘ばかりついたら、罰が当たる。

Amarinimo, uso bakari tsuitara, batsu ga ataru.

  • If you tell too many lies, you will incur divine punishment.
だんだんだんだん (dandandandan) 段々 (dandan) Gradually
  • なーふぁんそーうとぅお だんだんだんだん、ましなとおん。

Naa fwansoo nu utu o dandandandan, mashinatoon.

  • あなたの笛の音は段々、良くなっている。

Anata no fue no oto wa dandan, yokunatteiru.

  • You are gradually becoming better at playing flute.
次第に (shideeni) 次第に (shidaini) Gradually
  • いがろうん、次第しでえとぅしとぅたんやあ。

Igaroun, shideeni, tushi, tutanyaa.

  • 我々も次第に歳を取ったね。

Wareware mo shidaini toshi wo totta ne.

  • We have gradually gotten old.
どぅくだら (dukudara) ひどく (hidoku) Badly
  • どぅくだら、ひみちしいねえ、医者いさんかい診しらんでえ。

Dukudara, himichi shiinee, isa nkai mishirandee.

  • ひどく、せき込んだら、医者に診せないと。

Hidoku, seki kondara, isha ni misenaito.

  • If you start to cough badly, you have to go see a doctor.
まっすぐ (massugu) まっすぐ (massugu) Straight
  • くまから あまんかい まっすぐ、行ちいねえ、海んかいじゆん。

Kuma kara ama nkai massugu, ichiinee, umi nkai njiyun.

  • ここからあそこへ、まっすぐ、行くと、海に出る。

Koko kara asoko he, massugu, ikuto, umi ni deru.

  • If you go straight from there, you will see the ocean.
まっとうば (mattouba) 正しく (tadashiku) Correctly
  • なーや 沖縄口うちなーぐちぇー まっとうば使ちかりよお。

Naa ya uchinaaguchee mattouba, chikariyoo.

  • 君は沖縄語を正しく使ってよ。

Kimi wa okinawago wo tadashiku tsukatteyo.

  • Please use Okinawan correctly.
だってぃどぅ (dattidu) ちゃんと (channto) Properly
  • やあや だってぃどぅちゅくゆんどお。

Yaa ya dattidu, chukuyundoo.

  • 家はちゃんと、作るんだよ。

Ie wa chanto, tsukurundayo.

  • You must build a house properly.
だてん (daten) きちんと (kichinto) Neatly
  • あんまあや 今日ちゅうや だてん、すがとおん。

Anmaa ya chuu ya daten, sugatoon.

  • 母は今日はきちんと、身なりを整えている。

Haha wa kyou wa kichinto, minari wo totonoeteiru.

  • My mother has dressed neatly today.
さっぱっとぅ (sappattu) さっぱり (sappari) Freshly
  • 断髪だんぱちさあに、さっぱっとぅ、そおん。

Danbachi saani, sappattu, soon.

  • 散髪をして、さっぱりしている。

Sanpatsu wo shite, sappari shiteiru.

  • Looking fresh after a haircut.
しかっとぅ (shikattu) しっかり (shikkari) Carefully
  • うやし、しかっとぅちょうきよお。

Uya nu yushi, shikattu, chichoukiyoo.

  • 親の言うことをしっかり、聞いておけよ。

Oya no iukoto wo shikkari, kiiteokeyo.

  • Listen to your parents carefully.
うかっとぅお (ukattuo) うかつには (ukatsuniwa) Thoughtlessly, carelessly
  • あんしん、試験ー、うかっとぅお、受きららん。

Anshin, shikennoo, ukattuo, ukiraran.

  • それでも、試験はうかつには受けられない。

Soredemo, shiken wa ukatsuniwa ukerarenai.

  • You cannot take the exam thoughtlessly.
たった (tatta) 余計 (yokei) Even more
  • うぬやんめーや にじいねえ、たったっさなゆんどお。

Unu yanmee ya nijiinee, tatta, wassanayundoo.

  • その病気は我慢すると、余計、悪くなるよ。

Sono byouki wa gaman suru to, yokei, warukunaruyo.

  • If you endure your illness too much, it will get even worse.
Adverbs that shows judgement
Shows... Okinawan Japanese English Example
Assumption むし (mushi) もし (moshi) If
  • むし、言いばっぺえしいねえ、如何いちゃすか。

Mushi, iibappeeshiinee, icha suka.

  • もし、言い間違えたら、どうするか。

Moshi, iimachigaetara, dou suruka.

  • What would we do If we said something wrong.
たとぅい (tatui) 例え (tatoe) Even if
  • たとぅい大風うふかじぬ 吹ちん、くぬやあや とおおりらん。

Tatui, ufukaji nu fuchin, kunu yaa ya toooriran.

  • 例え、大風が吹いても、この家は倒れない。

Tatoe, ookaze ga fuitemo, kono ie wa taorenai.

  • Even if a strong wind blew, this house will not fall down.
例れー (taturee) 例えば (tatoeba) For example, if you compare
  • 例れー沖縄うちなーや 大和やまとぅぬハワイやさ。

Taturee, Uchinaa ya Yamatu nu Hawai yasa.

  • 例えば沖縄は日本のハワイさ。

Tatoteba Okinawa wa Nihon no Hawai sa.

  • If you compare, Okinawa is like Japan's Hawaii.
Supposition いやりん (iyarin) きっと(いかにも) (kitto (ikanimo)) Indeed, surely
  • いやりん、くぬすーさーや 山原やんばるくぇーなどぅ やさに。

Iyarin, kunu suusaa ya yanbaru kweena du yasani.

  • きっと(いかにも)、この鳥は山原クイナなのだろうか。

Kitto (ikanimo), kono tori wa yanbaru kuina nano darouka.

  • Surely this bird must be an Okinawa rail.
まさか (masaka) まさか (masaka) No way, no idea, unlikely, it is impossible that…
  • まさか、ちゅしまんかい 従弟いちくぬ しまゆんでー、うまーんたん。

Masaka, chu shima nkai ichiku nu shimayu ndee, umaantan.

  • まさか、同じ村に従弟が住んでいるとは思わなかった。

Masaka, onaji mura ni itoko ga sundeiru towa omowanakatta.

  • I had no idea that my cousin lived in the same village.
むしや (mushiya) もしや (moshiya) By chance
  • むしや、うんじょー わんとぅちるめーや あらに。
  • もしや、あなたは私と同じ歳ではないだろうか。
  • Are you as old as I am by any chance?
むしか (mushika) もしや (moshiya) Perhaps
  • むしか今頃なまぐる我事わあくとぅ心配しわしえらんさに。
  • もしや、今頃、私のことを心配していないだろうな。
  • Perhaps, they might be worried about me now.
まさか (masaka) まさか (masaka) No way, no idea, unlikely, it is impossible that…
  • まさか今日ちゅうや うまちいんでえ うまあんたん。

Masaka chyuuya umachi'indee uma'antan

  • まさか、今日はウマチーとは思わなかった。
  • I had no idea that today was the festival day.
  • Translation note: まちいは「お祭り」の意味。沖縄では稲、麦などの農耕に関して行われる。
あたまに (atamani) ほんとに (hontoni) Really
  • あたまに今日ちゅうや あちさっさあやあ。
  • ほんとに、今日は暑いねえ。
  • It’s really hot today.
Wish どうでぃん (doudin) どうか (douka) Please
  • どうでぃんわあが 御願うにげえ、ちたぼうり。
  • どうか、私のお願いを聞いてください。
  • Please could you do me a favor?
たんでぃ (tandi) どうぞ (douzo) Please
  • たんでぃわんにんかい みじまちくぃみそおれえ。
  • どうぞ、私に水を飲ましてください。
  • Please let me drink some water.
必じ (kan'naji) 必ず (kanarazu) Always, have to
  • 二男じなぬうや かんな、サッカー部んかい ゆんでぃ。
  • 二男は必ず、サッカー部に入るんだと。
  • The second oldest son has to join the soccer team.
如何しん (chaashin) どうしても (doushitemo) Have to, at any cost
  • あぬ映画えいぐゎ如何ちゃあしんじいぶしゃん。
  • あの映画をどうしても、見たい。
  • I want to watch the movie at any cost.
Doubt 如何し (chaashi) どうやって (douyatte) How
  • くぬパソコンや 如何ちゃあんじゅかすが。
  • このパソコンはどうやって、動かすのか。
  • How do you use this computer?
みったい (mittai) 一体 (ittai) Really
  • みったい、うんじゅおー、我どぅ うせえとおるい。
  • 一体、あなたは私を馬鹿にしているのか。
  • Really, are you making fun of me?
あんすか (ansuka) そんなに (son'nani) So much, really
  • くしぬあばあや あんすか歌上手うたじょうじいやんなあ。
  • 後隣りのあ姉さんはそんなに、歌が上手なのか。
  • Is the lady next-door really good at singing?
何んち (nuunchi) 何故 (naze) Why
  • ぬうんちすうや 行かんが。
  • 何故、父は行かないか。
  • Why doesn’t father want to go?
Denial
or
Negation
あちらん (achiran) 一向に (ikkouni) Completely, at all
  • ちゃっさ、あさがちしん、あちらんめーあがちんならん。
  • いくら、焦っても、一向に、前に進むことも出来ない。
  • No matter how much we hurry, we cannot make any progress at all.
じょーい (jyoui) 絶対 (zettai) Definitely
  • うぬ石ーわらびのーじょーいっちいゆさん。
  • この石は子供は絶対、持てない。
  • This rock, the child definitely cannot hold.
ちゃっさん (chassan) 度を超して (dowokoshite) Go too far
  • ちゃっさんあしばんしえーまし。
  • 度を超して、遊ばない方が良い。
  • You should not go too far when you’re playing.
いふぃん (ifin) 少しも (sukoshimo) At all
  • どぅく、いちゅなさぬ、いふぃん、ゆくららん。
  • あまりにも、忙しくて、少しも、休めない。
  • I’m so busy I cannot rest at all.
如何ん (chaan) どうすることも (dousurukotomo) Cannot do anything
  • じかじん かんくとぅ、如何ちゃー、ならん。
  • 言うことも聞かないから、どうすることも出来ない。
  • They don’t listen, so I cannot do anything.
Decision じゅんに (jyun'ni) 本当に (hontouni) Really, truly
  • くぬ三線さんしんや じゅんに秀物そうむんやっさー。
  • この三味線は本当に、立派なものだな。
  • This is a truly amazing Sanshin.
必じ (kan'naji) 必ず (kanarazu) Definitely
  • んねーかんな御所うんじゅとぅくるんかい 行ちゃん。
  • 私は必ず、あなたの所に行く。
  • I will definitely go to your place.
うん如おりー (ungutuorii) そのような事 (sonoyounakoto) Such a thing
  • うんぐとぅおりーや 当いめーなかい、たーがん なゆん。
  • そのような事は、当然、誰にでもできる。
  • Anybody can do such a thing.
Others いちゃんだん (ichandan) むやみに (muyamini) Recklessly
  • んかしちゅおーいちゃんだん、戦、そーたん。
  • 昔の人はむやみに戦争をしていた。
  • People used to recklessly start wars in the past.
うったてぃ (uttati) わざと (wazato) On purpose
  • あんぐゎーなかい だりーんねーし、二歳にーせーうったてぃ、どぅげーりゆたん。
  • 女の子に見られようと、青年はわざと、転びよった。
  • The boy fell on purpose so that the girl would notice him.
なー (naa) もう (mou) Already
  • ちゃくおーなー、いたん。
  • お客さんはもう、行ってしまった。
  • The guests are already gone.

Prenominal Adjectives (連体詞)
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).
Okinawan Japanese English
いぃー (yii) 良い (ii) good

Conjunctions (接続詞)
Conjunctions (接続詞)
Conjunctions are classified as an independent,
non-conjugating part of speech that connects words
coming after to words coming before.
Okinawan Japanese English
あんさびーくとぅ (ansabiikutu) そういうわけですから (souiuwakedesukara) "For that reason"
あんし (anshi) それで (sorede)
それから (sorekara)
"And then"
やくとぅ (yakutu) だから (dakara) "So"
やしが (yashiga) しかし (shikashi)
そうではあるが (soudewa'aruga)
"But"

Interjections / Exclamations (感動詞)
Interjections / 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.
Okinawan Japanese English Notes
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 (akisamiyo) あらまあ (aramaa) Oh dear Expression of dismay, concern, or worry
あきとーなー (akitoonaa) おやまあ 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 (uu) はい (hai) Yes Honorific "yes"
あいびらん (aibiran)
をぅーをぅー (wuuwuu)
いいえ (iie) No 目上の人に対して用いる

Honorific "no"

だー (daa) おい (oi)
どれ (dore)
ほら (hora)
Hey
とー (too) ほら (hora)
よし (yoshi)
All right Expression of pleasure, joy, or permission
とーとー (tootoo) よしよし (yoshiyoshi)
ほらほら (horahora)
はっさみよー (hassamiyoo) おやまあ (oyamaa) Oh dear 呆れ返った時などに発する語
んちゃ (ncha) なるほど (naruhodo)
やっぱり (yappari)
予定通りだ (yoteidourida)
Sure enough, As I expected

Verbs (動詞)

Verbs are classified as an independent, conjugating part of speech that shows movements. The conclusive form ends in ん (n).

Adjectives (形容詞)

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)

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 (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).
Okinawan Japanese English Example
あぎーん (agiin)
あぎゆん (agiyun)
しつつある (shitsutsuaru)
ぎさん (gisan) そうだ (souda)
ぐとーん (gutoon) のようだ (noyouda)
しみゆん (shimiyun)
すん (sun)
させる (saseru)
ぶさん (busan) したい (shitai)
みしぇーびーん (misheebiin) なさいます (nasaimasu)
みしぇーん (misheen) なさる (nasaru)
ゆーすん (yuusun) ことができる (kotogadekiru)
りゆん (riyun)
りーん (riin)
れる (reru)
られる (rareru)

Particles (助詞)
Case Markers (格助詞)
Attaches to a substantive and marks the relationship between other words.
Okinawan Japanese Notes/English Example
(nu)
(ga)
(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.
  • いんあびゆん。わああびゆん。
  • 吠える。私喋る。
っし (sshi) (de) Indicates the means by which something is achieved.
  • バスっし()ちゃびら。
  • バス行こう。
  • Let's go by bus.
Ø (Archaic:(yu)) (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) (e)・に (ni) 手段・方法
やか (yaka) より (yori) "as much as"; upper limit.
  • (あり)やか大和口 (やまとぅぐち)ぬ上手 (じょおじ)やあらん。
  • より日本語が上手ではない。
  • My Japanese isn't as good as his.
さーに (saani) Indicates the means by which something is achieved.
  • 沖縄口 (うちなーぐち)さーに手紙 (てぃがみ)()ちゃん。
  • 沖縄語手紙を書いた。
  • I wrote the letter in Okinawan.
から (kara) から (kara) 起点
んかい (nkai) (e) "to, in"; direction
  • 沖縄 (うちなー)んかいめんそーれー!
  • 沖縄へようこそ!
  • Welcome to Okinawa!
なーりー (naarii) 場所・位置
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 (wutooti) Progressive form of をぅてぃ, and also includes time.
  • くまをぅとーてぃ(ゆくぃ)()さん。
  • ここ休みたい。
  • I want to rest (at) here.
んじ (nji) (de) 場所
(n) 所属等
(nu) (no) Possessive marker. It may be difficult to differentiate between the subject marker ぬ (nu) and possessive marker ぬ (nu).
  • うわーししみーねー、からだんかいましやん。
  • 肉を食べると体に良い。
ぬ→「〜している」「〜である」「〜い・しい」pp459.
とぅ (tu) (to) 相手
んでぃ (ndi) (to) Quotative.
(ni) 時・場所等
Adverbial Particles (副助詞)
Okinawan Japanese Notes/English Example
びけー (bikee) だけ (dake)
びけーん (bikeen) ばかり (bakari) "only; limit"
  • ローマ字 ()びけーんぬ書物 (すむち)
  • ローマ字ばかりの書物。
  • A rōmaji only book.
だき (daki) だけ (dake)
までぃ (madi) まで (made) "up to, until, as far as"
  • くぬ電車 (でんしゃ)あ、首里 (しゅい)までぃ()ちゃびーん。帰 (けー)までぃ()ちょーいびーん。
  • この電車は首里まで行く。帰るまで待つ。
  • This train goes as far as Shuri. I'll wait until you come home.
くれー (kuree) ぐらい (gurai) "around, about, approximately"
  • 十分 (じっぷん)くれーかかゆん。
  • 十分ぐらいかかる。
  • It will take about 10 minutes.
ふどぅ (fudu) ほど (hodo)
あたい (atai) ぐらい (gurai) as much as; upper limit.
  • うぬ建物 (たてぃむの)ー思 (うむ)ゆるあたい(たか)こーねーやびらん。
  • あの建物は思うぐらい高くないよ。
  • That building is not as tall as you imagine it to be.
んちょーん (nchoun) さえ (sae)
うっさ (ussa) だけ (dake)
うっぴ (uppi) だけ (dake)
  • ()んじ欲 ()しゃるうっぴ()んでぃん済 ()まびいん。
  • 寝たいだけ寝ていいよ。
  • You can sleep as much as you want.
うひ (uhi) だけ (dake)
さく (saku) ほど (hodo)、だけ (dake)
Binding Particles (係助詞)
Okinawan Japanese Notes/English Example
(ya) (wa) Topic particle for long vowels, proper nouns, or names.

For other nouns, the particle fuses with short vowels. a → aa, i → ee, u → oo, e → ee, o → oo, n → noo. Pronoun 我ん (wan?) (I) becomes topicalized as 我んねー (wan'nee?) instead of 我んのー (wan'noo?) or 我んや (wan'ya?), although the latter does appear in some musical or literary works.

あー (aa)
えー (ee)
おー (oo)
のー (noo)
(n) (mo) "Also"
やてぃん (yatin) でも (demo) "even, also in"
  • 宇宙 (うちゅー)からやてぃん万里 (まんり)ぬ長城 (ちょーじょー)ぬ見 ()いゆん。大和 (やまとぅ)やてぃんいんちりーん口 (ぐち)を勉強 (びんちょー)すん。
  • 万里の長城は宇宙からでも見れる。日本でも英語を習う
  • The Great Wall of China can even be seen from space. Also in Japan, we study English.
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)
とぅか (tuka) とか (toka)
(ya)
どぅ (du) (zo)
こそ (koso)
(ru) (zo)
こそ (koso)
Sentence Ending Particles (終助詞)
Okinawan Japanese Notes/English Example
(ga)

やが (yaga)

(ka) Final interrogatory particle.
(mi) (ka) Final interrogatory particle
(ni) 可否疑問
(i) 強調疑問
がやー (gayaa) かな (kana)
さに (sani) だろう (darou)
なー (naa) (no) Final particle expressing 問いかけ・念押し
ばー (baa) 軽い疑問
どー (doo) (zo)
(yo)
(yo) (yo)
ふー (fuu) 軽く言う
(na) (na) Prohibitive
(e) 命令
(sa) (sa)
でむね (demune) 断定
せー (see) 断定
Interjectory Particles (間投助詞)
Okinawan Japanese Notes/English Example
てー (tee) (ne)
(yo)
よお (yoo)
(ne)
(yo)
(ya)
やあ (yaa)
(nu)
(yo)
なー (naa) (ne)
さり (sari) ねえ (nee)
ひゃー (hyaa) 意外、軽蔑
Conjunctive Particles (接続助詞)

Prefix (接頭語)

Suffix (接尾語)

Others[edit]

Copula[edit]

Okinawan Past Tense Japanese
あびーん (abiin)
いびーん (ibiin)
A ます (masu)

です (desu)

やいびーん (yaibiin)

でーびる (deebiru)
A
でございます (degozaimasu)

Question Words (疑問詞)[edit]

Okinawan Japanese English
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 (taa) (dare) "Who"
たったー (tattaa) 誰々 (daredare) "Who" (plural)
ちゃー (chaa) どう (dou) "How" (in what way)
ちぁっさ (chassa) どれだけ (doredake)
いくら (ikura)
"How much"
ちゃっぴ (chappi)
ちゃぬあたい (chanuatai)
どれほど (dorehodo) "How"
ちゃぬ (chanu) どの (dono)
どのような (donoyouna)
"What kind"
ぬー (nuu) (nani) "What"
ぬーんち (nuunchi) どうして (doushite) "Why"
まー (maa) どこ (doko) "Where"

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Okinawan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Central Okinawan". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Lewis 2009.
  5. ^ Moseley 2010.
  6. ^ Kerr 2000, p. xvii.
  7. ^ a b Brown & Ogilvie 2008, p. 908.
  8. ^ a b Kaplan 2008, p. 130.
  9. ^ Noguchi 2001, p. 87.
  10. ^ Noguchi 2001, p. 76.
  11. ^ Hung, Eva and Judy Wakabayashi. Asian Translation Traditions. 2014. Routledge. Pg 18.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Heinrich, P., Miyara, S., & Shimoji, M. (Eds.). (2015). Handbook of the Ryukyuan Languages. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. Pp 598.
  13. ^ Heinrich, P. (2004). Language Planning and Language Ideology in the Ryūkyū Islands. Language Policy, 3(2)
  14. ^ http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2012/05/19/national/okinawans-push-to-preserve-unique-language/#.VNrermK9KK0
  15. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-42859249
  16. ^ Heinrich, Patrick. The Making of Monolingual Japan. 2012. Pp 85–87.
  17. ^ Nakasone, Seizen. Festschrift. 1962. Pp. 619.
  18. ^ UNESCO (2009). "Interactive atlas of the world's languages in danger".
  19. ^ Heinrich, Patrick (2005). "Language loss and revitalization in the Ryukyu Islands". The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
  20. ^ Noguchi & Fotos 2001, p. 81.
  21. ^ Miyara 2009, p. 179.
  22. ^ a b Curry 2004, §2.2.2.1.9.
  23. ^ Miyara 2009, p. 186.
  24. ^ a b c Noguchi 2001, p. 83.
  25. ^ a b c Kodansha 1983, p. 355.
  26. ^ OPG 2003.
  27. ^ Kerr 2000, p. 35.
  28. ^ Takara & 1994-1995, p. 2.
  29. ^ WPL 1977, p. 30.
  30. ^ Ishikawa 2002, p. 10.
  31. ^ Okinawa Style 2005, p. 138.
  32. ^ a b Tanji 2006, p. 26.

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