UH Documentation Projet
Language Family: Japanese-Ryukyuan
Okinawan is spoken in the Okinawa Island chain(Central Okinawa; Southern Okinawa Island, Kerama Islands, Kumejima, Tonaki, Aguna Islands, and Eastern Okinawa Islands). The local people call their languge 'Uchinaa-guchi'. The word 'Uchinaa' means Okinawa or Okinawan. Uchinaa-guchi is different from Okinawa Standard Japanese.
Although there are some variations, or dialects, people who speak Uchinaa-guchi are able to understand each other. In contrast, it is impossible or very hard to understand each other for Uchinaa-guchi speakers and Japanese speakers even though Uchinaa-guchi shares 62% to 70 % cognates with Tokyo dialect (Ethnologue 2004).
Fluent speakers of this language are over the age of 50. Younger generations of the islands' population speak Okinawan dialect (Okinawa Standard Japanese) or Standard Japanese. Although younger Okinawans understand Uchinaa-guchi, there are some gaps found between their intelligibility and oral production.
People in this Project: