Okinawan Japanese

Okinawan Japanese (ウチナーヤマトグチ, 沖縄大和口 Uchinaa Yamato-guchi) is the Japanese language as spoken by people of Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawan Japanese's accents and words are influenced by traditional Ryukyuan languages. Okinawan Japanese has some loanwords from American English due to the United States administration after the Battle of Okinawa. Okinawan Japanese is a Japanese dialect (方言), unlike the Okinawan language (which is, nevertheless, also officially considered a Japanese dialect in Japan).

Okinawan Japanese
Native toJapan
RegionOkinawa Prefecture
Language codes
ISO 639-3
An example of Okinawan Japanese Koohii shaapu, from English "coffee shop", instead of Koohii shoppu in standard Japanese.

Differences from Standard Japanese

There are a number of aspects of Okinawan Japanese that are borrowed from Standard Japanese, but have different uses or meanings. For example, a number of verb inflections and words indicating aspect and mood are the same in Standard Japanese and Okinawan Japanese, but have different uses in both. Hazu means "due, scheduled, or supposed to occur", which indicates a high degree of probability in Standard Japanese. Yet in Okinawan Japanese it indicates a much lower degree of probability, more like "probably" or "may occur".[1] In Standard Japanese, the auxiliaries masho, yo, and o are combined with the particle -ne after a verb and used to make a suggestion. An example is ikimasho ne (Let's go). In Okinawan Japanese, this would express a speaker's will. It would mean "I will go" instead.[2]

Particles and demonstratives are another aspect of Okinawan Japanese grammar that differ from Japanese. The particle kara which means "from" or "since" in Japanese, means "as" or "because" in Okinawan Japanese. So, kara is used in Okinawan Japanese where wo or de is used in Japanese.[3]

Some words have different meanings in Standard Japanese. For example, aruku meanings "go around" or "work" in Okinawan Japanese, but means "walk" in Standard. Korosu means "hit" in Okinawan Japanese and "kill" in Standard.[4]

Many Okinawan youth use words borrowed from Japanese slang, such as mecchaa (very) and dasadasa (country bumpkin).[5]

English borrowings

Although not nearly as substantial as the borrowings from Japanese, Okinawan Japanese does contain some English loan words. Examples are paaraa (parlor), biichii paatii (beach party), and takoraisu (taco rice). One word combines the English word 'rich' with the Okinawan suffix -aa to create ricchaa (a rich person).[6]


  1. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 83.
  2. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 84.
  3. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 86.
  4. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 87.
  5. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 90.
  6. ^ Ōsumi 2001, p. 89.


  • Ōsumi, Midori (2001). "Language and identity in Okinawa today". In Mary Noguchi and Sandra Fotos (eds.). Studies in Japanese Bilingualism. Multilingual Matters Ltd. pp. 68–97. ISBN 978-1853594892.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)

HLA-B48 (B48) is an HLA-B serotype. The serotype identifies the more common HLA-B*48 gene products. B48 is most common along the West Pacific Rim, Americas indigenous peoples and Northern Eurasians. B*4801 is part of a group of alleles including B*4201 that share Intron 1 sequence with B*0702, which is common over Western and Central Asia, and has a distribution indicating an early and long presence in Eurasian humans. A*48 appears to be the result of a recombination event that occurred early in the settlement history of Central Asia that then spread eastward into the NW Pacific rim and the New World. (For terminology help see: HLA-serotype tutorial)

Hachijō language

The small group of Hachijō or Hachijōjima dialects are the most divergent form of Japanese or form an independent fourth branch of Japonic. They are spoken on the southern Izu Islands south of Tokyo, Hachijō Island and the smaller Aogashima, as well as on the Daitō Islands of Okinawa Prefecture, which were settled from Hachijō in the Meiji period. Based on the criterion of mutual intelligibility, Hachijō may be considered a distinct Japonic language.

Hachijō dialects retain ancient Eastern Japanese features, as recorded in the 8th-century Man'yōshū. There are also lexical similarities with the dialects of Kyushu and even the Ryukyuan languages; it is not clear if these indicate the southern Izu islands were settled from that region, if they are loans brought by sailors traveling among the southern islands, or if they might be independent retentions of Old Japanese.

Han system

The han (藩, han) or domain is the Japanese historical term for the estate of a warrior after the 12th century or of a daimyō in the Edo period (1603–1868) and early Meiji period (1868–1912).

Japanese dialects

The dialects of the Japanese language fall into two primary clades, Eastern (including Tokyo) and Western (including Kyoto), with the dialects of Kyushu and Hachijō Island often distinguished as additional branches, the latter perhaps the most divergent of all. The Ryukyuan languages of Okinawa Prefecture and the southern islands of Kagoshima Prefecture form a separate branch of the Japonic family, and are not Japanese dialects, although they are sometimes referred to as such.

Kantō dialect

The Kantō dialects (関東方言 kantō hōgen, 関東弁 kantō-ben) are a group of Japanese dialects spoken in the Kantō region (except for the Izu Islands). The Kantō dialects include the Tokyo dialect which is the basis of modern standard Japanese. Along with the Tōhoku dialect, Kantō dialects have been characterized by the use of a suffix -be or -ppe; Kantō speakers were called Kantō bei by Kansai speakers in the Edo period. Eastern Kantō dialects share more features with the Tōhoku dialect. After the Pacific War, the southern Kantō regions such as Kanagawa, Saitama, and Chiba prefectures developed as satellite cities of Tokyo, and today traditional dialects in these areas have been almost entirely replaced by standard Japanese.

Kunigami language

The Kunigami or Northern Okinawan language (Yanbaru Kutuuba (山原言葉/ヤンバルクトゥーバ)) is a Ryukyuan language of northern Okinawa Island in Kunigami District and city of Nago, otherwise known as the Yanbaru region, historically the territory of the kingdom of Hokuzan.

The Nakijin dialect is often considered representative of Kunigami, analogous to the Shuri-Naha dialect of Central Okinawan. The number of fluent native speakers of Kunigami is not known. As a result of Japanese language policy, the younger generation mostly speaks Japanese as their first language.

Okinawan language

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. 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.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.

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, business and social contact with mainlanders and previous attempts from Japan to suppress the native languages. 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.

Pig's ear (food)

Pig's ear, as food for human consumption, is the cooked ear of pig. It is found in a number of cuisines around the world.


The Pinan (平安) kata are a series of five empty hand forms taught in many karate styles. The Pinan kata originated in Okinawa and were adapted by Anko Itosu from older kata such as Kusanku and Channan into forms suitable for teaching karate to young students. When Gichin Funakoshi brought karate to Japan, he renamed the kata to Heian, which is translated as "peaceful and safe". Pinan is the Chinese Pinyin notation of 平安, which means also "peaceful and safe". Korean Tang Soo Do, one of 5 original kwan of Korea, but not taekwondo), also practice these kata; they are termed, "Pyong-an" or "Pyung-Ahn", which is a Korean pronunciation of the term "ping-an".

Rinken Band

Rinken Band (りんけんバンド) is an Okinawan band that helped popularize their homeland's musical forms and traditional Okinawan music starting in 1985, when their first hit, "Arigatou", was released.

Rinken Band was founded by Rinken Teruya, the son of well-known Okinawan folk music artist Rinsuke Teruya. The band fuses Okinawan folk music, pops, and celebratory eisā traditions to make ballads and dance tunes.

Rinken Band's most recent appearance in the United States was a concert in Oahu, Hawaii. They were featured at the annual Okinawan Festival of 2007.

Ryukyu Domain

The Ryukyu Domain (琉球藩, Ryūkyū han) was a short-lived domain of Japan, lasting from 1872 to 1879, before becoming the current Okinawa Prefecture and other islands at the Pacific edge of the East China Sea.

When the domain was created in 1872, Japan's feudal han system had developed in unique ways. The domain was a political and economic abstraction based on periodic cadastral surveys and projected agricultural yields. In other words, the domain was defined in terms of kokudaka, not land area. This was different from the feudalism of the West.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.

Ryukyuan languages

The Ryukyuan languages (琉球語派, Ryūkyū-goha, also 琉球諸語, Ryūkyū-shogo or 島言葉, Shima kotoba, lit. Island Speech) are the indigenous languages of the Ryukyu Islands, the southernmost part of the Japanese archipelago. Along with the Japanese language, they make up the Japonic language family. The languages are not mutually intelligible with each other. It is not known how many speakers of these languages remain, but language shift towards the use of Standard Japanese and dialects like Okinawan Japanese has resulted in these languages becoming endangered; UNESCO labels four of the languages "definitely endangered" and two others "severely endangered".

Takayama (surname)

Takayama (written: 高山 lit. "high mountain") is a Japanese surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Takayama Ukon (1552–1615), Daimyō, baptized as a member of the Society of Jesus

Takayama Chogyū (1871–1902), Japanese writer

Haneko Takayama (born 1975), Japanese writer

Hiroshi Takayama (born 1956), Japanese historian

Kazumi Takayama (born 1994), Japanese idol and writer

Kiyoshi Takayama (born 1947) Yakuza

Leila A. Takayama, human–computer interaction specialist

Masataka Takayama (disambiguation), multiple people

Minami Takayama (born 1964) Japanese voice actress-singer

Yoshihiro Takayama (born 1966) Professional Wrestler

Cyril Takayama (born 1973) illusionist of Okinawan-Japanese and Moroccan-French descent

Katsunari Takayama (born 1983) Former Minimumweight Boxing World Champion

Kaoru Takayama (高山 薫, born 1988), Japanese footballer

Tokunoshima language

The Tokunoshima language (シマグチ (島口) Shimaguchi or シマユミィタ Shimayumiita), also Toku-No-Shima, is a dialect cluster spoken on Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture of southwestern Japan. It is part of the Amami–Okinawan languages, which are part of the Japonic languages.

Tsuyoshi Nakaima

Tsuyoshi Nakaima (なかいま 強, Nakaima Tsuyoshi) is a Japanese manga artist who is the author and artist of sports manga. He is best known for the Sumo series Ucchare Goshogawara, for which he received the 1989 Shogakukan Manga Award in shōnen category. and which got an OVA adaptation in 1991.

Nakaima was an avid baseball player throughout high school and college but had to quit after shoulder injury. He became an assistant to Akio Chiba before creating manga on his own.

Nakaima is from Okinawa and it has been noted how some of his character use Okinawan Japanese.

Yonaguni language

The Yonaguni language (与那国物言/ドゥナンムヌイ Dunan Munui) is a Southern Ryukyuan language spoken by around 400 people on the island of Yonaguni, in the Ryukyu Islands, the westernmost of the chain lying just east of Taiwan. It is most closely related to Yaeyama. Due to the Japanese policy on languages, the language is not recognized by the government, which instead calls it the Yonaguni dialect (与那国方言, Yonaguni hōgen). As classified by UNESCO, the Yonaguni language is the most endangered language in all of Japan.

Yoron language

The Yoron language (ユンヌフトゥバ Yunnu Futuba) is a dialect continuum spoken on Yoronjima in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan. It is one of the Northern Ryukyuan languages, which are a sub-branch within the Japonic language family. The language is one of the most endangered languages in all of Japan.


Yotsugana (四つ仮名, literally "four kana") are a set of four specific kana, じ, ぢ, ず, づ (in the Nihon-shiki romanization system: zi, di, zu, du), used in the Japanese writing system. They historically represented four distinct voiced morae (syllables) in the Japanese language. However, Standard Japanese and the dialects of most Japanese-speakers have merged those morae down to two sounds.

Earlier forms
Japonic languages
Writing system
Grammar and


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.