Okinawan Japanese
Get Okinawan Japanese essential facts below. View Videos or join the Okinawan Japanese discussion. Add Okinawan Japanese to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Okinawan Japanese
Okinawan Japanese
Native toJapan
RegionOkinawa Islands
Native speakers
Language codes
An example of Okinawan Japanese Koohii shaapu, from English "coffee shop", instead of Koohii shoppu in standard Japanese.

Okinawan Japanese (?, , Uchinaa Yamatu-guchi) is the Japanese language as spoken by the people of Okinawa Islands. Okinawan Japanese's accents and words are influenced by the traditional Okinawan and Kunigami 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 (), unlike the Okinawan and Kunigami languages (which are, nevertheless, also officially considered as Japanese dialects in Japan).


The Ryukyuan languages were once widely spoken throughout the Ryukyu Islands, but saw a decline in speakers as a result of assimilation policies during much of pre-WW2 Japan. This event caused the Ryukyuan people to experience a language shift towards Japanese.[1] In the Okinawa Islands specifically, many learners of Japanese spoke it with a substrate from the Okinawan languages, causing a distinct variety of Standard Japanese to form, known as Okinawan Japanese.[2]

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".[3] In Standard Japanese, the auxiliaries mashou, you, and ou are combined with the particle ne after a verb and used to make a suggestion. An example is ikimashou ne (Let's go). In Okinawan Japanese, this would express a speaker's will. It would mean "I will go" instead.[4]

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.[5]

Some words have different meanings in Standard Japanese. For example, aruku means "go around" or "work" in Okinawan Japanese, but means "walk" in Standard. Korosu means "hit" in Okinawan Japanese and "kill" in Standard.[6]

Many Okinawan youth use words borrowed from Japanese slang, such as mecchaa (very) and dasadasa (country bumpkin).[7]

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).[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Assimilation Practices in Okinawa". Retrieved .
  2. ^ Anderson, Mark. "Studies of Ryukyu-substrate Japanese". Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics.
  3. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 83.
  4. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 84.
  5. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 86.
  6. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 87.
  7. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 90.
  8. ^ ?sumi 2001, p. 89.


  • ?sumi, Midori (2001). "Language and identity in Okinawa today". In Mary Noguchi; Sandra Fotos (eds.). Studies in Japanese Bilingualism. Multilingual Matters Ltd. pp. 68-97. ISBN 978-1853594892.

Further reading

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes