Miyako-Ryukyuan and its contribution to linguistic diversity

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Aleksandra Jarosz

Abstract

The paper provides introductory information on Miyako-Ryukyuan (Miyakoan). Miyakoan belongs to the Sakishima branch of the Japonic language family, the concept of which counterbalances the until-recently prevalent notion that Japan should be a linguistically homogenous country, and Japanese a language isolate with many unintelligible “dialects”. Following the statement that the endangered Miyako-Ryukyuan language is in an urgent need of extensive documentation and in-depth description, as well as producing more works in English devoted to it, the author introduces a few topics that may be of interest to Japanese/ Japonic linguists and language typologists alike: the “apical” vowel, syllabic consonants, focus marking strategies and formal modality markers. Each topic has been exemplified by Miyako-Ryukyuan samples from Nikolay Nevskiy’s Taishō-era handwritten fieldnotes, as retrieved and analyzed by this author.

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