A Linguistic History of the Forgotten Islands

A Reconstruction of the Proto-language of the Southern Ryūkyūs


Author: John R. Bentley
Sakishima comprises a group of islands situated between Okinawa and Taiwan, forming a culturally important bridge between Japan and Taiwan. Studies of the languages of the Ryukyuan islands are valuable for an accurate understanding of the linguistic history of Japan as a whole. This monograph is the first attempt – in any language – at a large-scale reconstruction of the three languages of the southern Ryukyus (Sakishima), viz., Miyako, Yaeyama andYonaguni. An introduction outlines a brief history of the area, with a concise linguistic history, followed by an explanation of the languages studied. Succeeding chapters are devoted to the reconstruction of each of the three proto-languages. The three proto-languages are then compared and proto-Sakishima is reconstructed. This monograph provides data illustrating the importance of the language of Sakishima in understanding the linguistic history of the larger language family of Japonic.

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John R. Bentley is Associate Professor of Japanese at Northern Illinois University. He is the author of The Authenticity of Sendai Kuji Hongi: A New Examination of Texts, with a Translation and Commentary, Historiographical Trends in Early Japan, and A Descriptive Grammar of Early Old Japanese Prose. His research interests are the history, phonology and etymology of Old Japanese, and the literature of the Asuka and Nara eras.
Alexander Vovin, Professor of East Asian Languages at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has published extensively on Japanese, Ainu, Korean and Tungusic, as well as other languages of East and Inner Asia. Among his major works are A Reconstruction of Proto-Ainu (Brill, 1993), A Reference Grammar of Classical Japanese Prose (RoutledgeCurzon, 2003) and Nihongo Keitoron no Genzai/Perspectives on the Origins of the Japanese Language (co-edited with Osada Toshiki, the International Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, 2003).
List of Figures; List of Maps; List of Abbreviations and Notations; Preface; 1 Introduction; 2 Proto-Miyako; 3 Proto-Yaeyama; 4 Pre-Yonaguni; 5 Proto-Sakishima; Appendix; References
Professional and scholarly.