Naha City creates booklets for Shimakutuba
September 10, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo
The Naha City Government has created booklets designed to help spread the use of Shimakutuba, the endangered Okinawan language. The government held a ceremony on September 9 to present the booklets to local pupils at the City Office.
The 34,000 booklets were made at the end of August.
Mayor of Naha, Takeshi Onaga, whose idea it was to create the booklets, handed them over to six representatives of the pupils. They thanked Onaga by saying “Nife debill,” which in English means “We are grateful.”
Professor at University of the Ryukyus Shigehisa Karimata, who supervised the project, said, “The booklets will be of interest to many people in Japan. The way the city worked on this will serve as a model for those trying to spread Shimakutuba in Japan.”
The creators printed the booklets on A5 size paper with 70 pages. They are in full color and have many illustrations. There were 15,000 printed for lower grades of elementary school and 19,000 for the higher grades. Handbooks for teachers and digital material is also available.
The city intends to distribute the booklets to children in all the elementary schools and junior high schools in Naha. They hope that the children will use the booklets both at school and at home.
Twelve-year-old Honoka Kakazu of Kainan Elementary School said, “I want to try hard to study Shimakutuba so I can understand what my grandparents are saying and to do my best to pass on the Okinawan language to people in future.” One of the participants in the ceremony said, “Natoon,” which in English means “You can do it.”
(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)
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