Language shift in the Ryukyu Islands

Authored by: Mark Anderson

Routledge Handbook of Japanese Sociolinguistics

Print publication date:  June  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9780415790277
eBook ISBN: 9781315213378
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides a broad overview of the way in which language shift has progressed in the Ryukyus over the last century. It is organized roughly in chronological order, beginning with a brief introduction to the literature on Ryukyuan sociolinguistics. The main text is divided into two main sections. The first is a roughly chronological account of the language shift process as it has progressed in the Ryukyus to date. It deals first with the period of Japanese language spread in the public domains through education and punishment in the early twentieth century before summarizing the post-war era of broken intergenerational transmission and subsequent decline of Ryukyuan languages in private domains. The second section focuses on the observable effects of language shift on Ryukyuan people’s language repertoires, behaviors and attitudes in the present day.

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