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Chapter Summary

Culturally and linguistically Okinawa Prefecture can be divided into four distinct groups: Okinawa, Miyako, Yaeyama, and Yonaguni. This chapter concentrates on the three southern-most language groups, which together are commonly called Sakishim. The islands of Sakishima disappear from historical records until around the fifteenth century, when a small number of Korean sailors are shipwrecked and rescued by villagers from Yonaguni. In this book, the author calls the languages of Japan-mainland Japanese and the languages of the Ryukyus-'Japonic', a term first coined by Leon Serafim. It is important to make this designation, because there is a tendency to look at all the languages spoken in modem Japan as descending from central Japanese. Though Norwegian and Swedish are mutually intelligible, and therefore would linguistically be classified as dialects of the same language, these dialects are spoken by different people in different countries, so for political reasons people speak of 'languages'.

Keywords: Korean sailors; 'Japonic' language; Sakishima; Yonaguni



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