Uki Uki Chat! – Okinawan Language

September 16, 2015
past event image
Language Lesson past event

 Welcome to Uki Uki Chat!

Today we’re discussing the islands of Okinawa and their distinct languages and dialect with Okinawan dancer and singer, Ms. Junko Fisher.

Please come check out Japan Society’s upcoming programming "Okinawan Vibes" dedicated to the art, culture and food of Okinawa.


Throughout this three-month special series, attendees will have the opportunity to experience the unique sounds, flavors, colors and history of Japan’s southern island chain, Okinawa.


Okinawa has more than 160 islands between Kyuushuu and Taiwan, stretching over 1,000 km.

Throughout the islands, there are region specific languages, three of which are:

Uchinaa guchi/kutuba – Okinawa Language (main islands)
Yaima kutuba – Yaeyama Language
Miyaaku kutuba – Miyako Language

With the spread of Standard Japanese throughout Okinawa, many of these unique languages are hardly spoken in daily life today. This has led to a distinct dialect(s) of Standard Japanese spoken throughout Okinawa.

Examples of Uchinaaguchi (Okinawa Language)

Tea: ocha (Standard) – ucha (Uchinaaguchi)
Parents: oya (Standard) – uya (Uchinaaguchi)
Sake – sake (Standard) – saki (Uchinaaguchi)
Karate – karate (Standard) – karati (Uchinaaguchi)
I, me – watashi (Standard) – wan (Uchinaaguchi)
Good morning – ohayou gozaimasu (Standard) – ukimisoochii (Uchinaaguchi)
Welcome – irasshaimase/youkoso (Standard) – mensooree (Uchinaaguchi)
Hello – konnichiwa (Standard) – haisai (Uchinaaguchi)
Very – totemo/sugoku (Standard) – deeji (Uchinaaguchi)
Okinawa – Okinawa (Standard) – Uchinaa (Uchinaaguchi)

"Thank you" in Okinawa

Standard – arigatou gozaimasu
Uchinaaguchi – nifeedeebiru
Miyaaku kutuba – tandigaatandi
Yaima kutuba – nifaayuu

The native languages of Okinawa have been labeled by UNESCO as endangered languages. We hope that continuing efforts will be made to preserve the beautiful native languages of Okinawa for future generations.

Do you have any topic you would like us to discuss? Please let us know in the comment section.

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  • September 16, 2015 – September 16, 2015