Ikema Ryukyuan: Investigating Past Experience and the Current State through Life Narratives
Shoichi Iwasaki, University of Hawaii
Ikema is a language variety spoken on Miyako and its surrounding islands in Okinawa. Miyako, of which Ikema is one dialect, has recently been designated by UNESCO as ‘definitely endangered’. Currently, only people in their 60s or older are said to speak Ikema fluently. As part of an Ikema documentation project, we have been investigating past experience and everyday use of Ikema in order to determine the current state of Ikema and what factors may have contributed to it. We have interviewed 13 community members, who are between 44 and 69 years old. They all attended local elementary and junior high schools during the post-war period when Standard Japanese was heavily promoted, leading to the use of infamous hoogenfuda ‘dialect placard’ at school. Perhaps because of this vigorous language policy, by the time they finished junior high, most of our interviewees had become more or less fluent in Japanese. When they grew up, the TV broadcast (often known as ‘cultural nerve gas’) was started. Although primary care givers had influence on the acquisition of the dialect, speakers’ general life style also plays a significant role for maintenance of the dialect. I will also discuss the role of speaker’s gender and changing marriage patterns.
Dianna Murphy, 608-262-1473
Department of East Asian Languages and Literature, with the Language Institute; Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia; Department of Linguistics; Center for East Asian Studies; and Trans-Asia Graduate Student Conference Organizing Committee.