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Todo: write about Okinawa being a linguistic relative of Japanese, ww2-era efforts to get rid of the language, etc...

ウチナーグチ vs 琉球語 vs 沖縄弁

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ウチナーグチ (uchinaa guchi) is the term that the people of Okinawa use when referring to their own language. This translates as "Okinawa mouth" or "Okinawa language".

琉球語 (ryuukyuugo) is the word in standard Japanese that refers to the language of Okinawa (the "Ryuukyuu kingdom", which is often spelled "Ryukyu").

沖縄弁 (okinawa-ben) is the word for just the dialect of Okinawa. In other words, the way people from Okinawa speak Japanese.

Todo: expand this some more


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  • アラン (aran) : disagree
  • デイジ (deiji) : serious
  • マアサン (maasan) : delicious
  • メンソーレ (mensoore) : welcome
  • ウチナ (uchina) : Okinawa
  • チュ (chu) : Person
  • 海人: ウミンチュ (uminchu) : Person of the sea
  • チュラ (chura) : pretty
  • ヤナ (yana) : ugly
  • チュラカギ / ヤナカギ (churakagi / yanakagi) : pretty person / ugly person

In the Okinawan dialect, it is possible to have words or names that begin with ん, which you will never see in standard 日本語.

  • んたまぎる

It is also common to use phonemes that are not part of the normal (ひらがな) Japanese language (though you may see them in 外来語), such as とぅ, てぃ, and ぐぁ

  • とぅい (tui) : bird.
  • とぅんふぁ (tunfa) : a weapon used in Okinawan martial arts.
  • やまとぅ (yamatu) : mainland Japan
  • てぃち (tichi) : one thing (counter)
  • いんぐぁ (ingua) : puppy

Common phrases

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Translation Phrase IPA
English inciriguci ?
hello haisai (women can also say haitai) ?
good-bye cu: wuganabira ?
please unige: sabira (things), -kwimi so:re: (actions) ?
thank you iqpe: nihwe: de:biru ?
I’m sorry gubiri: sabira (being impolite), waqsaibi:ndo: (accidents, mistakes) ?
how much? chasai ga ?
what's this? kure: nu:ndi bi:ga ?
yes wu: ?
no wu: wu: ?
I don’t understand wakayabiran ?
Where's the bathroom? hwu:ruya ma: yaibi:ga ?
good health [generic toast] kari: ?
Do you speak English? inciriguciya naibi:miga ?