Learn Uchinaaguchi


These are some words and phrases in the Okinawa/Ryukyuan language (sometimes referred to incorrectly as a hogen 方言 or dialect though it is quite different than Japanese in pronunciation). It is known as uchinaaguchi うちなーぐち. There are actually several variations, as regions and different islands technically had their own languages! Most of these below will be from the main island language group. Unfortunately fewer and fewer people these days can even speak uchinaaguchi.

はいさい hai sai:  hello
はいたい haitai: hello, used by females

めんそーれ men soh re:  welcome

御拝でーびーる nifee deebiiru: thank you

くゎっちーさびら kwacchi sabira: I will eat well! (said before eating)

くゎっちーさびたん kwacchi sabitan: Thank you for the meal (said after eating)

まーさん maasan: delicious!

うちなーんちゅ uchinaanchu: Okinawan person (or descendent)

うみんちゅ (海人) uminchu: ocean person, fishermen

島んちゅ (島人) shimanchu: island person, islander

美ら (ちゅら) chura: beautiful

かりゆし (嘉例吉) kariyushi: words for happiness, auspiciousness.  Also a word to pray for the safety of the trip, so it is often used in ferry boat names and sightseeing spots.

ガー gaa: river

ハンタ hanta: cliff

キジムナー kijimunaa: Okinawa mischief-makers (youkai), similar to menehune in Hawai’i

ハブ habu: snake

いちゃりばちょでー Ichariba choudee: Once we meet and talk, we are brothers and sisters.

An interesting calendar for 2017 that I picked up at Onna-no-eki (Roadside market in Onna Village), chock full of new uchinaaguchi for me to learn!