Yonaguni language

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与那国物言/ドゥナンムヌイ Dunan Munui
Native to Japan
Region Yonaguni
Native speakers
800 (2004)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 yoi
Glottolog yona1241[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Yonaguni language (与那国物言/ドゥナンムヌイ Dunan Munui) is a Southern Ryukyuan language spoken by around 800 people on the island of Yonaguni, in the Ryukyu Islands, the westernmost of the chain lying just east of Taiwan. It is most closely related to Yaeyama. Due to the Japanese policy on languages, the language is not recognized by the government and is instead called the Yonaguni dialect (与那国方言 Yonaguni hōgen?).


In the Yonaguni language, as well as in Miyako, Yaeyama, /b/ is cognate with Standard Japanese /w/. Yonaguni also has /d/ where Japanese and other Ryukyuan languages have /j/. Thus, for example, Yonaguni /dami(-n)/ ('to hurt, to ache') is cognate with the archaic or dialectal Japanese verb /jame(-ru)/ ('to hurt, to ache') rather than with Japanese /itam(-u)/ (same meaning). Yonaguni /d/ is probably a recent development from an earlier */j/, however, judging from the fact that even the */j/ in loanwords of Sinitic origin is pronounced /d/ by speakers of the Yonaguni language.

Yonaguni language also exhibits intervocalic voicing of plosives, as do many Japonic languages.

Writing system

Yonaguni was once written with a unique writing system called Kaidā logograms. However, after conquest by the Ryukyu Kingdom and later annexation by the Empire of Japan, the logograms were replaced by Japanese kana and Chinese characters.


  1. Yonaguni at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Yonaguni". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • 高橋俊三. "与那国方言." 言語学大辞典セレクション:日本列島の言語. 三省堂, 1997. Print. (Japanese) (ISBN 978-4385152073)
  • 高橋俊三. "沖縄県八重山郡与那国町の方言の生活語彙." 方言研究叢書. 4 (1975): Print. (Japanese)
  • 平山輝男, 中本正智. 琉球与那国方言の研究. 東京: 東京堂, 1964. Print. (Japanese)
  • 高橋俊三. "琉球・与那国方言の語彙". 東京: 法政大学沖縄文化硏究所, 1987. Print. (Japanese)
  • 西岡敏. "与那国方言の動詞継続相のアクセント対立". 地域研究シリーズ 35, 95-105, 2008. (Japanese)
  • 加治工真市, 仲原穣. "与那国方言について(与那国島の伝統文化調査研究報告書,加治工真市教授退官記念)". 沖縄芸術の科学 : 沖縄県立芸術大学附属研究所紀要 16, 17-74, 2004 (Japanese)

External links