The Language of the Old-Okinawan Omoro Sōshi

Reference Grammar, with Textual Selections


The Omoro Sōshi (1531–1623) is an indispensable resource for historical linguistic comparison of Old Okinawan with other Ryukyuan languages and Old Japanese. Leon A Serafim and Rumiko Shinzato offer a reference grammar, including detailed phonological analyses, of the otherwise opaque and dense poetic/religious language of the Omoro Sōshi.

Meshing Western linguistic insight with existing literary/linguistic work in Ryukyuan studies, and incorporating their own research on Modern Okinawan, the authors offer a grammar and phonology of the Omoro language, with selected (excerpts of) songs grammatically analyzed, phonologically reconstructed, translated, and annotated.

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Leon A Serafim, Ph.D. (1984), Yale, was Associate Professor of Japanese at the University of Hawai‘i. He has published articles on Japonic (Ryukyuan and Japanese) (pre)history, and helped edit the Okinawan-English Wordbook and J/K 19. His current interests are, especially, grammaticalization and historical syntax.

Rumiko Shinzato, Ph.D. (1984), University of Hawai‘i, is Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology. She has published chapters/articles on aspect, evidentiality, subjectivity, grammaticalization and language maintenance. She and Leon A Serafim co-authored a book on Okinawan kakari musubi (Brill 2013).
List of Figures and Tables
Abbreviations and Conventions

1 Introduction
 1  What is the Omoro Sōshi?
 2  Types of omoro
 3  Versions
 4  Song Structure
 5  Overview of the Omoro Language

2 Spelling System and Phonology
 1  Introduction
 2  Reconstruction Methodology
 3  Suprasegmentals
 4  Consonants
 5  Processes
 6  Meter in Omoros
 7  The Question of External Evidence and Its Relation to That Presented Here
 8  Coda

3 Lexicon
 1  PJ Origin
 2  Loans from MJ
 3  Loans from Sino-Japanese
 4  Loans from Korean
 5  Origins Unknown
 6  Mishōgo (MO, Meanings Obscure)

4 Nominals
 1  Nouns
 2  Pronouns
 3  Numerals
 4  Nominal Prefixes
 5  Nominal Suffixes

5 Adjectives
 1  What is an Adjective?
 2  Evolution of Adjectives
 3  Functional Differences between/among Types
 4  Functions as Modifiers, Predicates, or Noun Formatives

6 Verbs
 1  Conjugation Types
 2  History of Conjugational Merger: ra-gyō yodan-ka
 3  Functional Split (mz)
 4  Development of the Gerund

7 Auxiliaries
 1  Passive/Exalting/Spontaneous -ari(·r)- ~ -uyi(·r)-
 2  Causative/Exalting -as-
 3  Negative -azɨ ~ -aɴ ~ -an-
 4  Negative -adana
 5  The Optative/Counterfactual Auxiliary -(a)masyi
 6  Inference/Intention: -aɴ, -a, and -ami
 7  Negative Inferential/Intentional -umazyi
 8  Past -syi
 9  Perfect -t˚ar-, -c˚yar-, -dar-, -ʣyar-
 10  Emphatic Locative: -ʔac˚ɨr-u
 11  Progressive: -ur-
 12  Progressive/Perfective -yaaryi
 13  Copula: -yar-, -nar-
 14  The Exalting Auxiliary Verb -(u)wa·r/s-
 15  Humilific Auxiliary -abir-
 16  Humilific Auxiliary tʰat°imac°ɨr-

Students of Japanese/Ryukyuan languages, linguistics, and literature, or interested in studying the Omoro Sōshi and Old Okinawan from the standpoint of history, religion, or culture; research libraries catering to them.