Volume 1995 (1995) Issue 107 Pages 56-86
This is a record of the lecture given at the 109th Congress of the Linguistic Society of Japan held in Nago City, Okinawa on the 5th of November 1994.
In this paper the following matters are discussed.
1. The present state of the Ryukyuan dialectology: (1) the history and traditions of the Ryukyuan languege study, (2) trends after the Second World War, (3) activities of the OCLS (the Okinawa Center for Language Studies), and (4) unsolved problems.
2. Prerequisites for the phonetic research of the dialects of the Ryukyuan Archipelago, from the point of experimental phonetics: (1) problems concerning the vowel quadrangle (especially on the existence of the ‘coronal’ vowel [ _??_ ]), and (2) the problems of the air stream and air pressure in the vocal tract.
3. Phonological contributions of the Ryukyuan dialectology to general linguistics: (1) problems concerning vowel systems and their historical changes including why and how the Great Vowel Shift in English occurred, (2) development of the phonological oppositions between the glottalized and the non-glottalized consonants in the northern Ryukyuan dialects, and (3) distinction between ‘acute’ accent and ‘grave’ accent.
4. Concluding remarks concerning the problems of ‘the endangered languages’ in the world including the Ainu and the Ryukyuan languages in the Japanese Archipelago.