Studies of Ryukyu-substrate Japanese

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 focuses on varieties of Japanese spoken in the Ryukyus which have retained a substratum showing certain features of Ryukyuan languages. These varieties can be summarized under the term Ryukyu-substrate Japanese. The text provides insights into Ryukyu-substrate Japanese by summarizing the literature from 1930 to the present day, and traces the emergence of an apolitical linguistics approach in the Ryukyus. The reader is shown how past scholars viewed substratal influence as something that must be corrected through school education, while more recent scholars generally regard it as a positive marker of local identity. This comprehensive review of the studies to date allows the reader to understand how the foci of research have diverged into four main areas: survey questionnaires, theoretical classification, interviews and conversation analysis. The text concludes with a discussion of different scholars’ predictions as to the future of Ryukyu-substrate Japanese.

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