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Languages in Yaeyama Islands


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Due to their isolation the Yaeyama Islands are a linguist's dream. While standard Japanese is spoken everywhere and the main Okinawan language is also well understood, there is a unique Yaeyaman language (yaimamunii) as well. Ishigaki, Iriomote and Taketomi all have their own dialects of this, and Yonaguni's is so distinct that it's usually considered its own language. An indigenous ideographical writing system known as kaidā was once employed on Taketomi and Yonaguni, but is now primarily found on T-shirts in souvenir shops. See also: Yaeyama phrasebook, Yonaguni phrasebook

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Handy Yaeyaman glossary

Some words you may run into:

  • やいま yaima - Yaeyama
  • おーりとーり ōritōri - welcome
  • くよーナーら kuyōnāra - hello
  • にーふぁいゆー nīfaiyū - thank you
  • まーさん māsan - delicious

Note that spellings and pronunciations vary not just from island to island, but according to the speaker's preferred rendering in kana.

 
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Yaeyama Islands Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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