A Short Introduction

    Ikema is one of many varieties of Miyako Ryukyuan. While most languages of Japan are similar to each other, Miyako varieties have a unique tonal system and Ikema carries lexical tone. Interestingly, the adjectives in Ikema cannot bstand alone and may not be considered a class of words in the  variety. Also interesting is that Ikema preserves the old Japanese kakari-musubi agreement between verbs and focus markers. This could suggest that the variety split off from old Japanese a long time ago.

The Community

     Ikema dialect is spoken on Ikema island, Irabu island, and the main island of Miyako, but like all Ryukyuan languages and dialects, is not spoken by younger generations. If everyone over 60 on Ikema island speaks the language, then at least 2,000 do. However, while it is not taught in schools, it does still seem vital to community events and daily social greetings and activities.  If there comes a policy shift in public education in Japan, it may be one of the more healthy varieties of Ryukyuan to focus revitalization efforts.

For more information, see:

Hayashi, Yuka. "Ikema (Miyako Ryukyuan)." An Introduction to Ryukyuan Languages (2010): 167-168.