Okinawan Language Chart

Compiled by Rich Boyden and Ricky Rose

Edited by Rich Boyden & Frank Cantrell

 

 

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a very crude list of words collected from others' compilations and from informal conversations with speakers of the Okinawan language.  It is not intended to be exhaustive or authoritative.  The editor reserves the right to make sweeping changes (especially to the very weak introductory section below), and he welcomes contributions from others and invites volunteers to send e‑mail to Rich: kawatteru@yahoo.com   or Ricky: Suiken000@suikenbugeikai.com

 

Introduction

 

Linguistically, the Okinawan language is related to Japanese, thought by scholars to have diverged between 800‑1400 years ago.  At present, it can be said that most younger Okinawans speak Japanese spiced with leftover Okinawan phrases.  Nevertheless, when comparing Japanese hyojungo (standard, Tokyo Japanese) with the language spoken by Okinawans, many generalized differences exist.

Phonologically, the sound written in Japanese romaji as "e" is pronounced in Tokyo similarly to the "ay" sound in the English word "say" as in Naha, the sound is more like the "ee" in the English word "see."  Moreover, the sound written as "o" in Tokyo is pronounced "u" in Okinawa.  Thus, the word "te" would be pronounced "tay" by a Tokyoite and "tee" by an Okinawan.  The Japanese verb korosu would be "kurusu" and so on.  Consonant differences also exist.  For example, the "s" in the well‑known karate form Kusanku is pronounced in Okinawa with a slight rushing of air through the teeth, causing Tokyoites to pronounce it "kushanku."  It is a very weak comparison, but the whistling sound is closer to the "hi" sound in the Japanese word "hito" than it is to the stronger Japanese "sh" sound.  The Japanese "tsu" is also pronounced "chi".  Because of the growing prominence of hyojungo in Okinawa, these generalizations apply more to middle‑aged and older Okinawans and increasingly less to young ones.

Grammar is also different.  A section on grammar has been inserted below.

The following compilation of phrases includes mainly informal words; many of them are crude phrases.  The primary reason for their inclusion is that the editor has heard few other phrases distinguishable from hyojungo.  Another reason is that among younger people, Okinawan phrases appear to come out mainly when the fists come up.  The editor anxiously invites others to expand the scope of the list's contents, and to this end, the editor pledges also to spend more time speaking with older, more reserved Okinawans.  However, for the primary consumers of this list ‑‑ foreigners practicing karate ‑‑ the list should be useful in its present form.


Categorized List of Grammar and Words

 Pronouns and People

 

HOGEN

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

 

Wan

 

Washi, boku, ore

I, me

"Wan ga yo" ("Boku ga ne")

Yan

 

Omae

You

 

Ta

 

Dare

Who

 

Inagu

 

Onna

Woman

Caution: I am not certain of the level of respect here ‑ use at your own risk.

Ikiga

 

Otoko

Man

Caution: I am not certain of the level of respect here ‑ use at your own risk.

Anmaa, ayaa

 

Okaa, haha, mama

Mother, momma

 

Tanmei

 

N/A

Title for older man

Note: I have been told that the title has some respect, but I need to clarify on what the respect is based.

Shimakuwa

 

Shimaguni no hito

Island person

 

Dushikuwa

 

Tomodachi, Nakama

Friend, buddy, mate

 

Tugikuwa

 

 

Wife

Warning: I have not confirmed the level of respect for this word.

Yanawarabaiya

 

Amaeko da

[He's a] spoiled brat

 

  

Greetings/Pleasantries/Conversational Tools

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Haisai

 

Konnichiwa

Hello

 

Chaabirasai

 

Ojama shimasu, gomen kudasai

Pardon me

(used when entering a home)

Nama chichatan

 

Ima kuru (?)

I come now

(Used to enter a home?)

Nama chikaki

 

Ima chikaku (?)

I am coming

(Used to enter a home?)

Makaiga, mankaiga

 

Doko ni iku?

Where are you going?

 

Mensooree

 

Yokoso

Welcome

Mata, mensooree tai.  ("Please come back again.")

Imensooree

 

Yokoso Irasshaimashita

Welcome (formal)

 

Nifeedeebiru

 

Arigato

Thank you

 

Ukimisoochii

 

Ohaiyo gozaimasu

Good morning

 

Hajimiti uganabira

 

Hajimashite

Nice to meet you

 

Usagai misooree

 

Uketotte kudasai

Please take some

Ucha usagai misooree.  ("Please have some tea.")

Uchinaguchi wakai miseemi

Okinawago wakarimasuka?

Do you understand Okinawan?

 

Uu, ufee wakai biin.

 

Ee, sukoshi wakarimasu.

Yes, I understand a little.

 

Daarusa

So da ne

Uh huh; don't you think; that's right

 

Ya

Dar

Aren't you, isn't it

Yan, fura ya.  ("You're an idiot, aren't you.")

Guburii sabira

 

Shitsurei shimasu

Excuse me please

 

  

Greetings/Pleasantries/Conversational Tools (continued)

  

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Chaa gwanjuu yaibiimi tai?

Genki deshita ka?

Have you been well?

 

Chaa gwanjuu yebiseemi?

O genki desuka?

How are you? (formal)

 

Chaa gwanjuu Yebindo.

Okagesama de, genki desu.

I am fine (formal)

 

Arando

 

Nai yo

There isn't any.

 

Wan ne ya, ippe shichun

Boku ha, kimi ippai suki dayo(?)

I love you a lot(informal).

 

Masami?

 

Oishii?  (Umai?)

Does it taste good?

 

Guburisabira

 

Kaerimasu, Shitsureishimasu

I am going home, goodbye

 

Yakai

 

Okaeri (?)

Going home (?)

 

Maruketi yebimi

 

Ohisashiburi

Long time no see.

 

Chasugaiya

 

Do suru

What am I do (?)

 

Chasaiyebiga

 

Ikura desuka

How much?

 

(Ure) Nuyebiga

 

(Kore) Nandesuka

What is (it)

 

Ninjimi sooree

 

Oyasumi nasai

Good night

 

Unjo naya yami sega?

Anata no namae ha nan desuka?

What is your name?

 

Wan naya [name] yaibin

Boku no namae ha [name] desu

My name is [name]

 

Ganju yemi sega?

 

Genki datta?

How've you been?

Note: Used among friends

Greetings/Pleasantries/Conversational Tools (continued)

  

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Anucho ta yami sega?

Ano hito, dare desuka?

Who is that person?

 

Mihitchoti kimisoree

 

How do you do?

 

Imi soree

 

Agatte kudasai

Please come in

 

Hisai bin yasai

 

Samui desune

It's cold isn't it

 

Chuu ya ii tenki yabisa

Kyou ha ii tenki da ne

Today's nice weather, huh

 

Achisanu yasa

 

Atsui da ne

It's hot isn't it

 

Chuu ya kaji nu chusan yasai

Kyou ha kaze tsuyoi desu

It's windy today

 

Ashibiga mensooree

 

Come and see me

 

Ii soguwachiyasai

Omedetou gozaimasu

Congratulations

 

Wan ne Amerikachu yaibin

Boku ne, Amerikajin desu

I am an American

 

Umanji takushi murarigaiya yasai

Koko de takushi noremasuka (?)

Can I get a taxi here

 

Urikankai basunoriba banu aibigayasai

 

Something about a bus stop

 

Michi bappe saibitan

 

I am lost

 

Kashi shikumi soree

 

 

Please help me

 

Abindo

 

Arimasu

I have

 

Yukumisooree

 

Yukuri shite kudasai (?)

Come in and rest

 

  

Greetings/Pleasantries/Conversational Tools (continued)

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Wakaimi

 

Wakarimasuka

Do you understand

 

Wakaibindo

 

Wakarimasu

I understand

 

Nuyebiga

 

Nandesuka

What is it?

 

Nuga

 

Nani

What

Warning: Very informal.  My source was punched when he misused it to a higher rank

Ii hazu yo

 

Ii hazu yo

Should be good

Used more often than in Tokyo?

Chiyabitai

 

Gomen nasai

I am sorry

 

Ato kara ya

 

Mata ato de

See you later

 

 Descriptives

  

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Bannai

 

Ippai

A lot

Bannai yare ("Do it a lot!")

Deeji

 

Totemo

Very

Yan deeji fura ya ("Omae, totemo baka da.")

Ippe

 

Ippai

A lot (colloquial)

 

Abiyaa

 

Urusai, urusaiyatsu

Yelling, person talking too loudly

 

Nama

 

Ima

Now

 

Watabu

 

Debu (?)

Fat

Warning: I have not confirmed that this is not derogatory.

Masan

 

Mazui

Tastes bad

 

Masasai

 

Oishii

Tastes good

 

Michoki

 

Miru

Watch

 

Hijai

 

Hidari

Left

 

Chirukagi

 

Utsukushii

Beautiful

 

Yanakagi

 

Busu (boosue)

Ugly

 

Iibaikuwa

 

Tengu dana

[He's] stuck up

 

Dugurusan

 

Muzukashii

Difficult

 

Waji waji

 

Kan kan

Angry

 

 

Assorted Nouns, Counters

  

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Uchina

 

Okinawa

Okinawa

 

Ucinanchu

 

Okinawa no hito

Okinawan person

 

Yamato

 

Nihon, Nippon, Yamato

Japan

 

Yamatunchu

 

Nihonjiin

Japanese person

 

Uchinaguchi, Yanaguchi

Okinawago

Okinawan (the language)

 

Inguwa

 

Inu

Dog

 

Ucha

 

Ocha

Green tea

 

Andagii

 

Andonatsu (?)

Okinawan donuts

 

Taochi

 

Tachiai (?)

Street fight, brawl

 

Tichi

 

Hitotsu

One (thing)

 

Tachi

 

Futatsu

Two (things)

 

Michi

 

Mittsu

Three (things)

 

Yuchi

 

Yottsu

Four (things)

 

Ichichi

 

Itsutsu

Five (things)

 

Muchi

 

Mutsu

Six (things)

 

  

Assorted Nouns, Counters (continued)

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Nanachi

 

Nanatsu

Seven (things)

 

Yuchi

 

Yatsu

Eight (things)

 

Kukunuchi

 

Kokonotsu

Nine (things)

 

Tu

 

Tou

Ten (things)

 

Ure, uri

 

Kore

This

 

Kumisukuchin

 

Ocha

Tea (special kind?)

 

Hiitai

 

Heitai

Army, military person

 

Jinkuwa

 

Okane

Money

 

Gajan

 

Ka

Mosquito

 

Chidi

 

Kizutsuke

Cut

 

Wakuwa

 

Buta

Pig

 

  

States of Being/Emotions/Sensation

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Chikareta

 

Tsukareta

I'm tired

 

Chikareton

 

Tsukareta

Tired

(confirm conjugation)

Utaton

 

Tsukareta

I'm tired

(as in exhaustion)

Nibui

 

Nemui

I'm sleepy

 

Achiisan yaa tai?

 

Atsui da ne.

Hot, isn't it.

 

Aga

 

Itai

Ouch

 

Yasan

 

Onaka suita, hara heta

Hungry

 

Yamun

 

Iyamu (?), Itami

Ache, pain

Ex: Watai yamun (Stomach ache)

 

Anatomy

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Yakuan

 

Kinteki

Testes

 

Kuga

 

Kintama

Testes, balls

 

Chimuguchi

 

Suigetsu

Solar Plexus

 

Chiburu

 

Atama

Head, smart person

Yan, chiburu ka? ("Are you a smart guy?")

Chiburugi

 

Ke, Kaminoke

Hair

 

Mamaiyu

 

Mayuge

Eyebrow

 

Mi

 

Me

Eye

"Michoki" ‑ Watch (imperative)

Chira

 

Kao

Face

 

Kakugi

 

Ago

Chin, jaw (?)

 

Nudi

 

Kubi

Neck

 

Chibi

 

Oshiri

Buttocks

Warning: Could be English equivalent to "ass."  Will confirm.

Chimu

 

Kokoro

Heart

 

Chinshi

 

Hiza

Knee

 

Hirige

 

Hiji

Elbow

 

Gamaku

 

Koshi (?)

Hips

 

 

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Shiba

 

Shita

Tongue

 

Udi

 

Ude

Forearm, arm

 

Watai

 

Hara (?)

Stomach

 

Ti

 

Te

Hand

 

Iibi

 

Yubi

Finger

 

Chimi

 

Tsume

Nail

 

Hisa

 

Ashi (?)

Feet or legs

 

Hoomii

 

Omanko

Women's genitals

Warning: Said among men only.  Amusingly, the words "hold me tight" sound like "hoomii mitai" and it has been found to arouse quite an enthusiastic response when sung in karaoke.

  

Epithets, Crude Phrases and Other Danger Words

 

HOGEN

 

JAPANESE

ENGLISH

Notes

Fura

 

Baka

Idiot

 

Naicha

 

N/A

Japanese person

Warning: This is a derogatory racial term.

Shimanaicha

 

N/A

Japanese person who has lived on Okinawa for some time

Warning: This term is still somewhat derogatory, but carries the nuance that the Japanese person is

Kurusu

 

Korosu

To kill

Note: This word can be used with either pronunciation.  Increasingly, there is no automatic change of the "o" sound to "u."

Shinasu

 

Koroshite yaru

I'll kill you

 

Abitookee

 

Hozaitero

Keep talking, prattle on, "talk to the hand"

 

Abiranke

 

Urasai

Shut up.

 

Ibaiaguwa

 

Hana ga takai

Stuck up

 

Watabu

 

N/A

Fatso

 

Gwa/Kuwa

 

No direct translation

No direct translation

Generally a derisive ending to a person's name or title.  Treat as similar to "baka" or "chikusho."

Ijimisoree

 

Deteikinasai (?)

Get out of here

 

Kuwa

 

Koi

Come here

(condescending tone)

Kusa maiakuwa

 

N/A

Smelly person (?)

 

Hanakusaiya

Shibaiyakuwa

Hanakusaiya (colloquially)

[He] stinks (?)