Ethnologue: Areas: Asia

Japan

126,319,000 (1995). Nippon. Literacy rate 99% to 100%. Information mainly Sueyoshi Toba SIL 1977; Wurm and Hattori 1981, Takashi Fukuda SIL 1989. Also includes English 70,000, Chinese 150,000, from the Philippines 36,000, from Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia over 300,000. Data accuracy estimate: A2. Shinto-Buddhist, secular, Christian. Blind population 256,700. Deaf population 317,000 hearing impaired (1986 Gallaudet University). Deaf institutions: 131. The number of languages listed for Japan is 15.

AINU [AIN] 15 active speakers (1996 Alexander Vovin). In the ethnic group: 15,000 in Japan; 1,500 in Russia; 16,500 in all countries. Kuril Islands (Tsishima), Hokkaido. Formerly also on south Sakhalin Island, Russia. Language Isolate. Dialects: TSISHIMA, SAKHALIN. The people speak only Japanese and are integrated into Japanese culture. There were at least 19 dialects. Different from the Ainu spoken in China. Typology: SOV. NT 1897. Bible portions 1889-1896. Nearly extinct.

AMAMI-OSHIMA, NORTHERN (NORTHERN AMAMI-OSIMA, OSHIMA, OSIMA, OOSIMA) [RYN] Northwestern Okinawa; northern Amami-oshima Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Northern Amami-Okinawan. Dialects: NAZE, SANI. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use the vernacular among themselves but understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 understand the vernacular, but mainly use Japanese. Those under 20 are mainly monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

AMAMI-OSHIMA, SOUTHERN (SOUTHERN AMAMI-OSIMA) [AMS] Northern Okinawa; southern Amami-oshima, Kakeroma, Yoro, and Uke islands. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Northern Amami-Okinawan. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use the vernacular at home among themselves but understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 understand the vernacular but mainly speak Japanese. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese.

JAPANESE [JPN] 121,050,000 in Japan (1985); 380,000 in Brazil; 804,000 in USA including Hawaii (1975 government report); 20,000 in Germany; 43,000 in Canada; 32,000 in Argentina; 35,000 in Mexico; 12,000 in Paraguay; 109,000 in Peru; 10,000 in Taiwan (1993); 20,000 in Singapore (1993); 7,000 or more in Paraguay (1981); 12,000 in United Kingdom; 12,000 from Hong Kong; 1,300 in United Arab Emirates; 1,500 in Dominican Republic; 1,200 in Panama; 125,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Also in Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand. Japanese, Japanese. Dialects: MANABE-SHIMA, SANUKI, KINKI, SOGO, NAIRIN, CHURIN, GAIRIN, OKI, KAGOSHIMA. Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji (Chinese character) writing systems used. Possibly related to Korean. Kyushu dialects, especially Kagoshima, are quite divergent. Kagoshima is 84% cognate with Tokyo dialect. The Eta are an ethnic group of hereditary butchers speaking Japanese as mother tongue. National language. Typology: SOV; postpositions; demonstrative, numeral, adjective, possessive, relative clause, proper noun precede noun head; adverb precedes verb; sentence final question particle; CV. Buddhist, Shintoist. Braille Bible portions. Braille Scripture in progress. Bible 1883-1987. NT 1879-1993. Bible portions 1837-1992.

JAPANESE SIGN LANGUAGE (SHUWA, TEMANE) [JSL] (317,000 hearing impaired; 1986 Gallaudet Univ.). Deaf sign language. Over 95% of the deaf understand Japanese Sign Language and 80% understand finger spelling. Temane is the former name. 107 deaf schools. The first school was in Kyoto in 1878. Signed Japanese is distinct. Pidgin Signed Japanese is used often in formal situations, especially TV, lectures, speeches. Related to Taiwanese and Korean sign languages.

KIKAI [KZG] Northeastern Okinawa; Kikai Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Northern Amami-Okinawan. Dialect: ONOTSU. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use Kikai at home among themselves but can understand and use Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand Kikai but mainly speak Japanese. Those under 20 are mainly monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

KOREAN [KKN] 670,000 in Japan, .5% of the population (1988); 75,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Also in North and South Korea, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, USA, Singapore, Guam. Language Isolate. Buddhist, Christian. Bible 1911-1993. NT 1887-1983. Bible portions 1882-1961.

KUNIGAMI [XUG] Central Okinawa; central and northern Okinawa Island, Iheya, Izena, Ie-jima, Sesoko islands. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Southern Amami-Okinawan. Dialect: NAGO. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. Ryukyu languages are 62% to 70% cognate with Tokyo dialect of Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (1981 Hattori in Wurm and Hattori). Those over 50 use Kunigami at home among themselves but can understand and use Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand Kunigami, but mainly use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are mainly monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

MIYAKO [MVI] Southern Okinawa; Miyako, Ogami, Ikema, Kurima, Irabu, Tarama, Minna islands. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Sakishima. Dialects: MIYAKO-JIMA (HIRARA, OGAMI), IRABU-JIMA, TARAMA-MINNA. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The dialects listed have noticeable differences, but not impossible communication. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use Miyako at home but can understand and speak Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand Miyako but mainly use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are mainly monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

OKINAWAN, CENTRAL (OKINAWAN, LUCHU) [RYU] 900,000 in all countries all Ryukyuan languages. Central Okinawa; southern Okinawa Island, Kerama Islands, Kume-jima, Tonaki, Aguna islands, and islands east of Okinawa Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Southern Amami-Okinawan. Dialects: SHURI, NAHA, TORISHIMA, KUDAKA. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. Ryukyu languages are 62% to 70% cognate with Tokyo dialect of Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (1981 Hattori in Wurm and Hattori). Those over 50 use the vernacular at home among themselves but can understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand the vernacular but use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are mainly monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989). Bible portions 1855-1858.

OKI-NO-ERABU [OKN] North central Okinawa; Oki-no-erabu Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Southern Amami-Okinawan. Dialects: EAST OKI-NO-ERABU, WEST OKI-NO-ERABU. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. Dialect differences are noticeable, but communication is not impossible. Ryukyu languages are 62% to 70% cognate with Tokyo dialect of Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (1981 Hattori in Wurm and Hattori). Those over 50 use the vernacular at home among themselves but can understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand the vernacular, but use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

TOKU-NO-SHIMA [TKN] Northern Okinawa; Toku-no-shima Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Northern Amami-Okinawan. Dialect: KAMETSU. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use the vernacular at home among themselves but understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 understand the vernacular but use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

YAEYAMA (YAYEYAMA) [RYS] Southern Okinawa; Ishigaki, Iriomote, Hatoma, Kohama, Taketomi, Kuroshima, Hateruma, Aregusuku islands. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Sakishima. Dialects: ISHIGAKI, KABIRA, SHIRAHO, TAKETOMI, KOHAMA, HATOMA, SONAI, KUROSHIMA, HATERUMA. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 use Yaeyama at home among themselves but can understand and use Standard Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand Yaeyama but mainly use Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

YONAGUNI [YOI] Southern Okinawa; Yonaguni Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Sakishima. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (Hattori in Wurm and Hattori 1981). Those over 50 speak Yonaguni at home among themselves but can understand Japanese. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese. Those 20-50 can understand Yonaguni, but mainly use Japanese at home and work (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).

YORON [YOX] North central Okinawa; Yoron Island. Japanese, Ryukyuan, Amami-Okinawan, Southern Amami-Okinawan. Inherent intelligibility is generally impossible or very difficult with other Ryukyuan languages and Japanese. Ryukyu languages are 62% to 70% cognate with Tokyo dialect of Japanese. The younger the generation, the more fluently they speak Japanese (1981 Hattori in Wurm and Hattori). Those over 50 use Yoron at home among themselves, but also understand and use Standard Japanese. Those from 20 to 50 understand Yoron but mainly speak Standard Japanese at home and work. Those under 20 are monolingual in Japanese (T. Fukuda SIL 1989).


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
Copyright © 1996, Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc. All rights reserved.

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