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This article describes the modern Okinawan writing system. See the Okinawan language article for an overview of the language. For the writing systems in Ryukyuan languages in general, see the Ryukyuan languages article.
An example of traditional Okinawan writing circa 1471

Okinawan language, spoken in Okinawa Island, was once the official language of the Ryukyu Kingdom. At the time, documents were written in kanji and hiragana, derived from Japan.

Nowadays, most Japanese, as well as most Okinawans, tend to think of Okinawan as merely a dialect of Standard Japanese, even though the language is not mutually intelligible to Japanese speakers.[1] As a "dialect", modern Okinawan language is not written frequently. When it is, the Japanese writing system is generally used with an ad hoc manner. There is no standard orthography for the modern language. Nonetheless, there are a few systems announced by scholars and laypeople alike. None of them are widespread among the native speakers, but those systems can write the language with less ambiguity than the ad hoc conventions. The Roman alphabet in some form or another is used in some publications, especially those of an academic nature.

SystemsEdit

Conventional usagesEdit

The modern conventional ad hoc spellings found in Okinawa.

Council systemEdit

The system devised by the Council for the Dissemination of Okinawan Dialect (沖縄方言普及協議会). [1]

University of the Ryukyus systemEdit

The system devised by Okinawa Center of Language Study, a section of University of the Ryukyus. Unlike others, this method is intended purely as a phonetic guidance, basically uses katakana only. For the sake of an easier comparison, corresponding hiragana are used in this article.

New Okinawan lettersEdit

新沖縄文字 (Shin Okinawa-moji), devised by Yoshiaki Funazu (船津好明, Funazu Yoshiaki), in his textbook Utsukushii Okinawa no Hōgen (美しい沖縄の方言; "The beautiful Okinawan Dialect"; ISBN 4-905784-19-0). The rule applies to hiragana only. Katakana is used as in Japanese; just like in the conventional usage of Okinawan.

Basic syllables and kai-yōon (palatalized syllables)Edit

i u e o ya yu yo
(Initial) 1 [i]
[ji]
[u]
[wu]
[e]
[je]
[o]
[wo]
[ja] [ju] [jo]
(Elsewhere) (Not used) 2
Conventional
をぅ

いぇ


うぉ
Council ゆぃ をぅ ゆぇ
Ryukyu Univ.
New Okinawan い゙   え゙
' 'a
a
'i
i
'u
u
'e
e
'o
o
'ya 'yu 'yo
(Initial) 1 [ʔa] [ʔi] [ʔu] [ʔe] [ʔo] [ʔja] [ʔju] [ʔjo]
(Elsewhere) [a] [i]
[ji]
[u]
[wu]
[e]
[je]
[o]
[wo]
Conventional
いぇ

うぉ
Council っや っゆ っよ
Ryukyu Univ. いぇ いゃ いゅ いょ
New Okinawan      
k ka ki ku ke ko kya
[ka] [ki] [ku] [ke] [ko] [kja]
きゃ
g ga gi gu ge go gya
[ɡa] [ɡi] [ɡu] [ɡe] [ɡo] [ɡja]
ぎゃ
s sa shi
si
su she
se
so sha
sya
shu
syu
[sa] [ʃi] [su] [ʃe] [so] [ʃa] [ʃu]
Others しぇ しゃ しゅ
Ryukyu Univ.
すぃ
しぇ
z za zi zu ze zo
[dza] [dzi]
[dʐi]
[dzu] [dze] [dzo]
Others
Ryukyu Univ. づぃ
j ja ji ju je jo
[dʒa] [dʒi] [dʒu] [dʒe] [dʒo]
Others じゃ じゅ じぇ じょ
Ryukyu Univ. じゃ
ぢゃ

じゅ
ぢゅ
じぇ
ぢぇ
じょ
ぢょ
t ta ti tu te to
[ta] [ti] [tu] [te] [to]
Others てぃ とぅ
New Okinawan    
d da di du de do
[da] [di] [du] [de] [do]
Others でぃ どぅ
New Okinawan    
ch
c
cha
ca
chi
ci
chu
cu
che
ce
cho
co
[tʃa] [tʃi] [tʃu] [tʃe] [tʃo]
ちゃ ちゅ ちぇ ちょ
ts tsi tsu
[tsi]
[tʂi]
[tsu]
Ryukyu Univ. つぃ
n na ni nu ne no nya nyu
[na] [ɲi] [nu] [ne] [no] [ɲa] [ɲu]
にゃ にゅ
h ha hi fu
hu
he ho hya hyu hyo
[ha] [çi] [ɸu] [çe] [ho] [ça] [çu] [ço]
ひゃ ひゅ ひょ
b ba bi bu be bo bya byu byo
[ba] [bi] [bu] [be] [bo] [bja] [bju] [bjo]
びゃ びゅ びょ
p pa pi pu pe po pya pyu
[pa] [pi] [pu] [pe] [po] [pja] [pju]
ぴゃ ぴゅ
m ma mi mu me mo mya myu myo
[ma] [mi] [mu] [me] [mo] [mja] [mju] [mjo]
みゃ みゅ みょ
r ra ri ru re ro
[ɾa] [ɾi] [ɾu] [ɾe] [ɾo]
1: At the beginning of a word.
2: University of the Ryukyus system is an exception, always using ゐ, をぅ, え, を (ヰ, ヲゥ, エ, ヲ) for [i], [u], [e], [o], and い, う, いぇ, お (イ, ウ, イェ, オ) for [ʔi], [ʔu], [ʔe], [ʔo], respectively.

Gō-yōon (labialised syllables)Edit

wa wi we
[ɰa] [ɰi] [ɰe]
Conventional うぃ うぇ
Council
Ryukyu Univ. ゑぃ
New Okinawan
' 'wa 'wi 'we
[ʔɰa] [ʔɰi] [ʔɰe]
Conventional うぃ うぇ
Council っわ っうぃ っうぇ
Ryukyu Univ. うゎ うゐ うぇ
New Okinawan      
k kwa
qua
kwi
qui
kwe
que
[kʷa] [kʷi] [kʷe]
Conventional くぁ
くゎ
くぃ くぇ
Council くゎ
Ryukyu Univ. くゐ
New Okinawan      
g gwa gwi gwe
[ɡʷa] [ɡʷi] [ɡʷe]
Conventional ぐぁ
ぐゎ
ぐぃ ぐぇ
Council ぐゎ
Ryukyu Univ. ぐゐ
New Okinawan      
h fa
hwa
fi
hwi
fe
hwe
[ɸa] [ɸi] [ɸe]
Conventional ふぁ ふぃ ふぇ
Council
Ryukyu Univ. ふゎ
New Okinawan      

OthersEdit

n 3 4 5
' 'n
Conventional
Council っん
Ryukyu Univ.
New Okinawan  
3: Hatsuon (moraic n)
4: Sokuon (geminated consonants)
5: Chōon (longer vowels): In conventional usages, longer vowels are sometimes spelled like in mainland Japanese as well; "ou" (おう) for ō, doubled kana for others. (e.g. うう for ū.)

ReferencesEdit