Okinawa Dialect and Its Study
Okinawa dialect is a part of Japanese: the dialect of Japanese. However, the system of the dialect is quite different in its sound1 and its vocabulary from the standard Japanese. Then, before starting carefully looking at the Okinawa dialect, it is a good idea to make a hypothesis to understand the Okinawa dialect closely. That is as follows: “Okinawan people used to learn a foreign language: Chinese.” This hypothesis includes the change of grammar and the deviation of vocabulary from the standard Japanese.
Let’s suppose the ancient Japanese had communicated with the ancient Chinese for some business reasons. Then, it partially left the Okinawa dialect in vocabulary. For example, “waa” in the Okinawa dialect means I in Chinese, “taarii” means an adult, and “choodee” means a brother. They are considered as the loan words from Chinese2.
Let’s consider the loan words from Chinese above a vocabulary import as nouns and noun phrases. Look at chi bao le in Chinese, and in the Okinawa dialect, this also means: I have eaten a lot, and I’m full. Closely look at le, this represents the perfect tense both in Chinese and the Okinawa dialect. The dialect contains the grammar that doesn’t exist in the standard Japanese.
Okinawan people had left a consequence of language development in their language that is presumably close to the ancient Japanese and is related to Chinese. The chi bao le in the Okinawa dialect left the learning of the ancient Okinawan people as now is called Second Language Acquisition. Communication may never end in between languages, including language learning and understanding.
1 The Okinawa dialect has three different vowels: a, i, u. The rests of e, o change into the others.
2 The loan words from Chinese may be the same as in the standard Japanese.