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Yonaguni phrasebook

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Yonaguni is a language spoken solely on the island of Yonaguni at the westernmost tip of the Yaeyama Islands, Japan. Of the roughly 1,700 inhabitants, about half can speak the dialect.

If you're really interested in the language, the Yonaguni Ethnographic Museum sells a small dictionary written by an island auntie who is the museum's curator, Nae Ikema. The same woman, 97 years old, is also the last remaining soul with a traditional knowledge of the island's peculiar writing system known as "kaida dii" (two symbols found carved in the underwater ruins closely resemble the local characters for horse and goat, respectively).

Distinctive features[edit]

In general, Yonaguni only uses the 3 vowels, a, i, and u (compared to Okinawan, with 5, Yaeyaman, with 4, Miyako, with 4, and Amami, with 8), but e and o are still heard occasionally, such as in the imperative hire: (go!) and the emphatic particle do:.

The first thing that a speaker of Common Japanese is likely to notice is that initial y sounds (IPA [j]) have changed into d sounds, such as in du:ci ("four"; Okinawan yu:ci; CJ yottsu), dumi ("wife"), and Dunan, the island's name. Intervocalic voicing is also heard -- CJ haka (grave) is Yonagunian haga; CJ aka (red) > Yonaguni aga.

Aspirated t and k sounds, often indicated with an outward-facing apostrophe (ʻ), are distinguished from their unaspirated counterparts, which can be indicated with an inward-facing one ('). Vowel length varies with the speaker, and when writing in katakana some will use the long vowel mark and some not.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

c - like English "ch"

ŋ - like the "ng" in "ing"

ʻ - indicates that the preceding consonant is aspirated


Phraselist[edit]

Random phrases


Where are you going? 
M̩maŋki hiruna?
To Okinawa (main island) 
Wunnaŋki.
Welcome to this place 
Kʻumaŋki waːriː.
Who are you? 
Nda tʻaːya?
I am [a Yonagunian/Okinawa mainlander/Japanese mainlander/American/Australian/Briton]. 
Anuya [dunaŋtʼu/wunnaŋtʼu/damatuŋtʼu/amirikaŋtʼu/wusutiraːriyaŋtʼu/iŋciriŋtʼu] du.
I don't have money. 
diŋ minuŋ.
Please, eat! 
Yiː hayi.
This tastes good; eat it! 
Maru yun gara, hai.
I can't eat anymore, I'm full. 
Maː hwunuŋ, bataŋti du.
Is that sake? 
U ya sagi ka yaː?
Is there any tea? 
Saː aranu ka yaː?
I want to eat "sata andagi". 
Sata andagiː haibusa.
Please visit my house. 
Baya ŋki kuba hai.
thanks or congratulations 
Hwugarasa.
ahh, ok. 
Ishi-ishi.
idiot. 
Miŋburubutta.
beautiful 
Abyan.
mountain(s). 
Dama.
east. 
Aŋgayi.
west. 
Yiri.
south. 
Hayi.
north. 
Nici.
Sonai. 
Tumayimura.
Kubura. 
Kubura.
Higawa. 
Ŋdimura.
Atlas moth (world's largest moth). 
Ayamihabiru.
guava. 
Baŋshiru.
banana. 
Basu. ("basu" means 'bus' in Japanese, so using this word in an otherwise-Japanese sentence may cause confusion)
sake 
Sagi.
tea 
Saː.
fish 
Iyu.
snack (CJ 'okashi')
Kaci.
San'ai Isoba (legendary empress of Yonaguni). 
Sakayi Isuba.

Basics[edit]

Common signs


OPEN 
CLOSED 
ENTRANCE 
EXIT 
PUSH 
PULL 
TOILET 
MEN 
WOMEN 
FORBIDDEN 
Hello. 
. ( )
Hello. (informal
. ( )
How are you? 
 ? ( ?)
Fine, thank you. 
. ( )
What is your name? 
 ? ( ?)
My name is ______ . 
______ . ( _____ .)
Nice to meet you. 
. ( )
Please. 
. ( )
Thank you. 
. ( )
You're welcome. 
. ( )
Yes. 
. ( )
No. 
. ( )
Excuse me. (getting attention
. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon
. ( )
I'm sorry. 
. ( )
Goodbye 
. ( )
Goodbye (informal
. ( )
I can't speak name of language [well]. 
[ ]. ( [ ])
Do you speak English? 
 ? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
 ? ( ?)
Help! 
 ! ( !)
Look out! 
 ! ( !)
Good morning. 
. ( )
Good evening. 
. ( )
Good night. 
. ( )
Good night (to sleep
. ( )
I don't understand. 
. ( )
Where is the toilet? 
 ? ( ?)

Problems[edit]

Leave me alone. 
. ( .)
Don't touch me! 
 ! ( !)
I'll call the police. 
. ( .)
Police! 
 ! ( !)
Stop! Thief! 
 ! ! ( ! !)
I need your help. 
. ( .)
It's an emergency. 
. ( .)
I'm lost. 
. ( .)
I lost my bag. 
. ( .)
I lost my wallet. 
. ( .)
I'm sick. 
. ( .)
I've been injured. 
. ( .)
I need a doctor. 
. ( .)
Can I use your phone? 
 ? ( ?)

Numbers[edit]

Many Yonagunians who moved to the island as adults can't speak the dialect fluently and say that the only thing they can do is count to ten. If you can master this, you'll get a good summary of the sound changes in Yonagunian in the process (standard Japanese in parentheses):

t'u:ci (hitotsu )
t'a:ci (futatsu )
mi:ci (mittsu )
du:ci (yottsu)
icici (itsutsu)
mu:ci (muttsu)
nanaci (nanatsu)
da:ci (yattsu)
kugunuci (kokonotsu)
10 
tu (too)
11 
( )
12 
( )
13 
( )
14 
( )
15 
( )
16 
( )
17 
( )
18 
( )
19 
( )
20 
( )
21 
( )
22 
( )
23 
( )
30 
( )
40 
( )
50 
( )
60 
( )
70 
( )
80 
( )
90 
( )
100 
( )
200 
( )
300 
( )
1,000 
( )
2,000 
( )
1,000,000 
( )
1,000,000,000 
( )
1,000,000,000,000 
( )
number _____ (train, bus, etc.) 
( )
half 
( )
less 
( )
more 
( )

Time[edit]

now 
( )
later 
( )
before 
( )
morning 
( )
afternoon 
( )
evening 
( )
night 
( )

Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM 
( )
two o'clock AM 
( )
noon 
( )
one o'clock PM 
( )
two o'clock PM 
( )
midnight 
( )

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s) 
( )
_____ hour(s) 
( )
_____ day(s) 
( )
_____ week(s) 
( )
_____ month(s) 
( )
_____ year(s) 
( )

Days[edit]

today 
( )
yesterday 
( )
tomorrow 
( )
this week 
( )
last week 
( )
next week 
( )
Sunday 
( )
Monday 
( )
Tuesday 
( )
Wednesday 
( )
Thursday 
( )
Friday 
( )
Saturday 
( )

Months[edit]

January 
( )
February 
( )
March 
( )
April 
( )
May 
( )
June 
( )
July 
( )
August 
( )
September 
( )
October 
( )
November 
( )
December 
( )

Writing time and date[edit]

Colors[edit]

black 
( )
white 
( )
gray 
( )
red 
( )
blue 
( )
yellow 
( )
green 
( )
orange 
( )
purple 
( )
brown 
( )

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

How much is a ticket to _____? 
( )
One ticket to _____, please. 
( )
Where does this train/bus go? 
( )
Where is the train/bus to _____? 
( )
Does this train/bus stop in _____? 
( )
When does the train/bus for _____ leave? 
( )
When will this train/bus arrive in _____? 
( )

Directions[edit]

How do I get to _____ ? 
( )
...the train station? 
( )
...the bus station? 
( )
...the airport? 
( )
...downtown? 
( )
...the youth hostel? 
( )
...the _____ hotel? 
( )
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate? 
( )
Where are there a lot of... 
( )
...hotels? 
( )
...restaurants? 
( )
...bars? 
( )
...sites to see? 
( )
Can you show me on the map? 
( )
street 
( )
Turn left. 
( )
Turn right. 
( )
left 
( )
right 
( )
straight ahead 
( )
towards the _____ 
( )
past the _____ 
( )
before the _____ 
( )
Watch for the _____. 
( )
intersection 
( )
north 
( )
south 
( )
east 
( )
west 
( )
uphill 
( )
downhill 
( )

Taxi[edit]

Taxi! 
( )
Take me to _____, please. 
( )
How much does it cost to get to _____? 
( )
Take me there, please. 
( )

Lodging[edit]

Do you have any rooms available? 
( )
How much is a room for one person/two people? 
( )
Does the room come with... 
( )
...bedsheets? 
( )
...a bathroom? 
( )
...a telephone? 
( )
...a TV? 
( )
May I see the room first? 
( )
Do you have anything quieter? 
( )
...bigger? 
( )
...cleaner? 
( )
...cheaper? 
( )
OK, I'll take it. 
( )
I will stay for _____ night(s). 
( )
Can you suggest another hotel? 
( )
Do you have a safe? 
( )
...lockers? 
( )
Is breakfast/supper included? 
( )
What time is breakfast/supper? 
( )
Please clean my room. 
( )
Can you wake me at _____? 
( )
I want to check out. 
( )

Money[edit]

Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars? 
( )
Do you accept British pounds? 
( )
Do you accept Euros? 
( )
Do you accept credit cards? 
( )
Can you change money for me? 
( )
Where can I get money changed? 
( )
Can you change a traveler's check for me? 
( )
Where can I get a traveler's check changed? 
( )
What is the exchange rate? 
( )
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)? 
( )

Eating[edit]

A table for one person/two people, please. 
( )
Can I look at the menu, please? 
( )
Can I look in the kitchen? 
( )
Is there a house specialty? 
( )
Is there a local specialty? 
( )
I'm a vegetarian. 
( )
I don't eat pork. 
( )
I don't eat beef. 
( )
I only eat kosher food. 
( )
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard
( )
fixed-price meal 
( )
a la carte 
( )
breakfast 
( )
lunch 
( )
tea (meal
( )
supper 
( )
I want _____. 
( )
I want a dish containing _____. 
( )
chicken 
( )
beef 
( )
fish 
( )
ham 
( )
sausage 
( )
cheese 
( )
eggs 
( )
salad 
( )
(fresh) vegetables 
( )
(fresh) fruit 
( )
bread 
( )
toast 
( )
noodles 
( )
rice 
( )
beans 
( )
May I have a glass of _____? 
( )
May I have a cup of _____? 
( )
May I have a bottle of _____? 
( )
coffee 
( )
tea (drink
( )
juice 
( )
(bubbly) water 
( )
(still) water 
( )
beer 
( )
red/white wine 
( )
May I have some _____? 
( )
salt 
( )
black pepper 
( )
butter 
( )
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
( )
I'm finished. 
( )
It was delicious. 
( )
Please clear the plates. 
( )
The check, please. 
( )

Bars[edit]

Do you serve alcohol? 
( )
Is there table service? 
( )
A beer/two beers, please. 
( )
A glass of red/white wine, please. 
( )
A pint, please. 
( )
A bottle, please. 
( )
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please. 
( )
whiskey 
( )
vodka 
( )
rum 
( )
water 
( )
club soda 
( )
tonic water 
( )
orange juice 
( )
Coke (soda
( )
Do you have any bar snacks? 
( )
One more, please. 
( )
Another round, please. 
( )
When is closing time? 
( )
Cheers! 
( )

Shopping[edit]

Do you have this in my size? 
( )
How much is this? 
( )
That's too expensive. 
( )
Would you take _____? 
( )
expensive 
( )
cheap 
( )
I can't afford it. 
( )
I don't want it. 
( )
You're cheating me. 
( )
I'm not interested. 
(..)
OK, I'll take it. 
( )
Can I have a bag? 
( )
Do you ship (overseas)? 
( )
I need... 
( )
...toothpaste. 
( )
...a toothbrush. 
( )
...tampons. 
. ( )
...soap. 
( )
...shampoo. 
( )
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
( )
...cold medicine. 
( )
...stomach medicine. 
... ( )
...a razor. 
( )
...an umbrella. 
( )
...sunblock lotion. 
( )
...a postcard. 
( )
...postage stamps. 
( )
...batteries. 
( )
...writing paper. 
( )
...a pen. 
( )
...English-language books. 
( )
...English-language magazines. 
( )
...an English-language newspaper. 
( )
...an English-English dictionary. 
( )

Driving[edit]

I want to rent a car. 
( )
Can I get insurance? 
( )
stop (on a street sign
( )
one way 
( )
yield 
( )
no parking 
( )
speed limit 
( )
gas (petrol) station 
( )
petrol 
( )
diesel 
( )

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong. 
( )
It was a misunderstanding. 
( )
Where are you taking me? 
( )
Am I under arrest? 
( )
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen. 
( )
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate. 
( )
I want to talk to a lawyer. 
( )
Can I just pay a fine now? 
( )


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