Yaeyama (ヤイマムニ)

Yaeyama is a Southern Ryukyuan language spoken on Yaeyama Island (八重山列島) in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan, specifically on the islands of Ishigaki (石垣島), Taketomi (竹富島), Kohama (小浜島), Kuroshima (黒島), Hatoma (鳩間島), Aragusuku (新城島), Iriomote (西表島) and Hateruma (波照間島). It is estimated that 7,000 to 10,000 people speak Yaeyama, and most of them are over 50 years old. Younger people tend to use the language only in songs and rituals.

The Japanese government classifies Yaeyama as a Japanese dialect and refers to it as 八重山方言 (yaeyama hōgen). However, each island where Yaeyama is spoken has its own dialect, and not all are mutually intelligible. There is also little mutual intelligibility with other Ryukyuan languages and none with Japanese.

Yaeyama script and pronunciation

Yaeyama script and pronunciation

Download a script chart for Yaeyama (Excel)

Information about written Yaeyama supplied by Wolfram Siegel (PDF)

Sample Videos


Information about Yaeyama

Japonic / Japanese-Ryukyuan languages

Amami, Japanese, Kikai, Miyakoan, Okinawan, Okinoerabu, Tarama, Tokunoshima, Yaeyama, Yonaguni

Page created 28.05.21. Last modified: 09.06.24


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