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Language
(Uchinaguchi)

The Okinawan language or Uchinaguchi is part of the Ryukyuan family of languagesThere are many different dialects and sub-dialects in the Okinawan language, which vary from village to village.  It is a major dialect of Japanese.  In the book, Of Andagi and Sushi, Hui O Laulima state that in 1879 the Japanese government made efforts to establish Japanese as the standard language when Okinawa became a prefecture of Japan.  At first this did not work, the local dialects in Okinawa persisted as the language spoken at home, with friends and in outlying areas.  Never the less, radio, television and the increase travel between Ryukyu and Japan's main islands, fulfilled the task of a standard language.  Broadcasters spoke in Japanese on radio and television.  The Okinawan language was almost forgotten.  The revitalization and perpetuation of the Okinawan language is promising.  Today there are classes, schooling in the study of the native Okinawan tongue (Andagi 4-5).
 
Uchinaguchi and the Japanese are linguistically very similar as well as different. The two languages share "the use of different levels of speech to acknowledge differences in status, gender and age" (Okinawan 24).  Yet, Uchinaguchi contains sounds that are not found in Japanese.  Not to mention, because of the sub-dialects, there are differences from region to region thus "confusion in the pronunciation also results in confusion in the definition" (Okinawan 24-25).

Listed below are some words and phrases that are commonly used during an informal family conversation  (Taken from the text Okinawan Mixed Plate).
 
Uchinaguchi Katayabira
(Let's speak Okinawan)
 
 

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language.jpg
Okinawan Language

Phrases:
  • Chaabira sai. - Pardon me. (Used when entering a home). May I come in?
  • Chaganju yami semi - How are you?
  • Guburi sabira - Good bye.
  • Mata mensore tai. - Please come back again.
  • Mata yassi. - See you again.
  • Mensore. - Welcome.
  • Nife debiru. - Thank you.
  • Yukuimi sore - Good night
  • Yutasai bin - No thank you.
Words:
  • abiyaa - person who talks loudly, yelling
  • andagii - Okinawan donut
  • anma - mother
  • amasan - sweet
  • basanai - banana
  • chibi - buttocks
  • chichi - moon
  • chimu - heart
  • chu (short sound) - people
  • churakaagii - good looking
  • churasan - beautiful; pretty
  • dushi - friends
  • fe - fly
  • guma - small
  • hame - grandmother
  • hira - cockroach
  • ichubi - strawberry
  • ikiga - male; man
  • inagu - female; woman
  • irikisan - pleasant
  • jin - money
  • kanasan - lovable; beloved, dear
  • kuneti - forgive me
  • kusan - small, little
  • kwashi - candy
  • magi - large, big
  • masan - tasty, delicious
  • mensore - welcome
  • misan - new
  • nachibusa - cry baby
  • ninjun - sleep; go to bed
  • nuji - rainbow
  • saki - liquor
  • shida san - cool
  • shisan - sour
  • su - father
  • tida - sun
  • tuji - wife
  • ubun - rice
  • udui - dance
  • usume - grandfather
  • uttu - husband
  • uya - parents
  • wamun - mine
  • wan - I; me
  • watta - we; us
  • ya - house
  • yana - bad
  • yuru - night