Talk:Kunigami language

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I think it would be great if this article included a bit more comparisons to Okinawan; that it's a separate language from Japanese is a given, but I think that for many readers it would be a surprise to learn that Kunigami is considered a separate language from Central & Southern Okinawan.

Also, while I understand the value of IPA to linguists, there are those of us who approach this topic from a Japanese Studies (or Okinawan Studies) background, an approach which I would argue is equally valid. For those of us with an intimate understanding of Japanese - kanji, kana, and romaji - and a strong interest in the various Ryukyuan languages, but no knowledge of IPA, it would be wonderful if more kana were used, and if more care were taken to represent romaji more accurately. This is not just a matter of what would be easier for me, or some weak argument like that, but indeed speaks to the accuracy of representing the language as it would be written natively, i.e. in kana, along with the closest English transliteration (romaji).

I'd make these changes myself, but as the state it's in is already incomprehensible, I can't know what's being referred to well enough to make the proper changes. What's a glottal stop doing in the middle of haʔkai? Is that just はかい, or does Kunigami uses particularly noted glottal stops where Japanese does not?

Thanks. LordAmeth (talk) 12:51, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

LordAmeth, that's not a glottal stop, it's a glottalized consonant. Most of these sounds do not have a standard representation in kana, since there is no standardized kana version of the IPA. --ಠ_ಠ node.ue ಠ_ಠ (talk) 20:26, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
Then its transcription is just plain wrong. Is the consonant preglottalized (/ˀk/) or just 'simply' glottalized (/kˀ/)? --JorisvS (talk) 22:29, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
LordAmeth, please try to understand that kanji, hiragana, and katakana are the orthography of the Japanese language. They cannot be accurately used to write non-Japanese languages, as they've been developed to represent Japanese phonology only. IPA is the only way to transcribe words so that the pronunciation is unambiguous. As most, if not all, of the Ryukyu languages lack a native writing system (and even if they had a writing system, it would be imperfect, as all writing systems are) we have to do the best we can with IPA. As for the glottalized consonants, I too am very confused. As it is transcribed, haʔkai contains a glottal stop, which is different from /ˀk/ and /kˀ/, not to mention the vague possibility that what the article describes as "glottalized consonants" could include ejectives. Do we have any published work containing a phoneme inventory?? (talk) 05:20, 12 October 2010 (UTC)

Oddness in “Vocabulary” section[edit]

The Vocabulary section is a bit strange at present. It currently notes, in its entirety (bolding mine):

The Kunigami language has some words of unclear etymology, such as Nakijin dialect shintsun (/ʃíntʃún/), which is an intransitive verb meaning "to sink." This word has often been compared with the Old Japanese and Classical Japanese verb しづく shidzuku, which appears in ancient poetry with the sense of "to be sunk at the bottom of a body of water, to rest on the bottom; to be seen through water." However, if Nakijin sincun is ultimately cognate with Old Japanese shidzuku, the two forms must have descended from different Proto-Japonic dialectal variants, because the phonological correspondence between the Nakijin form and the Old Japanese form is irregular.

This was added by anon user (talk · contribs) in this edit on 22 Feb 2007. It's a mystery to me why this user even mentions shidzuku, which appears to be a poor match both phonetically and semantically (as partially mentioned above), when there's the much-closer match of しづむ shidzumu, which also appears in ancient poetry (such as the Man'yōshū of roughly 759 CE; see poem #229) with the sense of “to sink” (intransitive verb). To my eyes and ears, sincun and shidzumu fit much better, especially considering that /mu/ has historically changed into /n/ in numerous phonological contexts even in standard mainland Japanese, and this alternate related term obviates any cognate controversy and thus moots this whole section.

As such, I'm removing the Vocabulary section, since its entire content appears to be incorrect. -- Eiríkr ÚtlendiTala við mig 23:41, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

I don't think there was any particular problem in that section. Speaking about semantics, Early Middle Japanese 沈く siduk- and 沈む sidum- had similar meanings as verbs. Furthermore, Okinawan ending -c[-un] points to earlier -k or -t; compare Nakijin シンちュン haʔcun "to write" which is cognate to Japanese 書く kak-. The -un part is common in present predicative form of every verb, and has nothing to do with マ行四段活用. Tskm04 (talk) 23:40, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
  • @Tskm04: (I'm not on WP much lately, sorry for the delayed reply...)
Re: semantics, Japanese siduk- referred to being on the bottom (to be sunk), while sidum- referred to the act of descending into water (to sink). Similar, but distinct. Of the two, sidum- is closer to what the Vocabulary section described as the meaning of Nakijin shintsun.
Re: Okinawan endings, your Nakijin example confuses me -- the kana and romaji don't match. シンちュン would be sincun, not haʔcun. Was that a typo in the kana? I can see a relationship between kaku and haʔcun, but if the kana are correct, then the mainland cognate would not be kaku.
You note, the -un part is common in present predicative form of every verb -- is -un then just the regular plain-form ending for all verbs, equivalent to the ending -u in mainland verbs? If so, then yes, we must ignore any マ行 similarity as merely coincidental, and the verb roots discussed above would be sid- and sinc-. Japanese root sid- (the probable root underlying sidum- and siduk-, appearing as obsolete sidu "to hang something down; to lower something" in the Man'yōshū) is likely cognate with modern Japanese 下 shita "down". Would the nasalization appearing in the verb form (noun sit- > verb sid-) account for the /n/ in the apparent Nakijin verb root sinc-? -- Eiríkr ÚtlendiTala við mig 08:26, 6 November 2014 (UTC)


On Ryukyu Islands the Kunigami word ルーちュー is mentioned. Is the use of a hiragana chi an error, or is there something special going on in Kunigami?

There is debate on whether to use hiragana or katakana to write Ryūkyūan languages, but that was just a mistake and I've corrected it. ミーラー強斗武 (talk) 17:48, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
By the way, you should sign your posts with tildes (~~~~) so other editors know who you are and can easily contact you on your talk page. ミーラー強斗武 (talk) 17:59, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

The hiragana ち is not an error. The mixed kana writing system was carefully designed by Nakasone Seizen. The choice of hiragana and katakana does reflect phonemic differences.[1] The phonemic transcription is designed specifically for the Okinawa Nakijin hōgen jiten (1983) and not for other purposes. It only represents the dialect of Yonamine, Nakijin. Other dialects require their own schemes. After all, there is no such thing as a Kunigami word in the real world.

Misleading readers into believing unstandardized things as a standard constitutes original research. What Sturmgewehr88 (talk · contribs) is doing is even worse. He is promoting weird schemes that cannot be found outside Wikipedia. --Nanshu (talk) 13:23, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

To my foreign eyes and ears, 「ちゅ、チュ、チゅ、ちュ」all make the same sound and are romanized as "chu". Because of this, it seems silly or eccentric to me to mix hiragana and katakana, but because you have a source I won't press it. However, what on Earth do you mean there's no such thing as a Kunigami word "in the real world"? I interpret that as you not believing Kunigami language even exists. ミーラー強斗武 (StG88ぬ会話) 19:44, 15 October 2014 (UTC)

Sourcing, NPOV[edit]

  1. The article cites no sources for its content.
  2. There is by no means agreement in the scholarly literature that The Kunigami language includes the Okinoerabujima dialect (島ムニ Shimamuni) and the Yoronjima dialect (ユンヌフトゥバ Yunnu futuba). The preponderance of scholarly sources I've seen disagree, and consider Kunigami, Yoron and Okinoerabu separate, mutually unintelligible languages. Examples include the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, published by Oxford University Press ([2]) and Evidentials in Ryukyuan ([3]). At the very least, alternative views should be presented. (I came here because this article was referenced in Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Northern Okinawan language.) Andreas ,JN466 10:42, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
All of the same content is found on the Northern Okinawan language page so it can just be copied here and the International Encyclopedia do Linguistics has a single sentence entry on Yoron and Okinoerabu. This is e original article and should be retained while everything at Northern Okinawan language should end up ,edged back here, so long as it does not contain any of Nanshu's original research.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 15:35, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
The entry on Kunigami in the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics is just as long as that on Okinoerabu and Yoron. I've removed the unsourced sentence claiming that the latter two are included within Kunigami. Please don't re-add without a source stating so (if one can be found); and if you do, please also add one of the many sources considering them separate to present that point of view as well. Andreas JN466 17:58, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
Kunigami has more coverage overall as something unto itself. And UNESCO considers Yoron and Okinoerabu as part of Kunigami.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 18:08, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
You need to add a source, mate. And UNESCO is not the final arbiter of linguistics. Andreas JN466 18:14, 20 October 2014 (UTC)
That doesn't matter. They still include Yunnu Futuba and Shimamuni as parts of Yanbaru Kutuba.—Ryūlóng (琉竜) 18:20, 20 October 2014 (UTC)