[lg policy] Okinawa: Preserving Uchinaguchi through Cultural Capital

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 21:18:06 UTC 2015

Preserving Uchinaguchi through Cultural Capital
by admin34 | February 2nd, 2015

[image: 476368377]
culture of Okinawa, Japan is quite distinct from other Japanese islands. It
became a part of Japan in 1879, but has a strong American influence because
of three decades of military occupation following WWII. Today, 20% of the
island is made up of over 30 U.S. military bases. This history has resulted
in the near extinction of the Okinawan language, called Uchinaguchi, which
was systematically suppressed when the island was annexed by Japan. Because
of ubiquitous U.S. presence, Okinawans perceive more of a need for English
competence than for learning the language of their ancestors. Once the U.S.
ceded control of the island back to Japan in the 1970’s, the island
underwent changes that many Okinawans perceived as another occupation, but
this time instead of U.S. military projects, Japanese business took over
the island. Japanese power over Okinawa can even be seen in the language
politics: Uchinaguchi was long considered a dialect of Japanese despite the
two languages having less than 60% in common. In 2009 UNESCO recognized
Okinawan as its own language along with five others spoken in the region,
all of which are endangered. Native speakers are aging and dying off.

More… <http://languagemagazine.com/?page_id=122975>

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