Why Not an Uchinaaguchi Writing Contest?

Rodney Header
Hello everyone,

Please watch this lecture by Jack Musick at UH Hilo. I found it interesting. He presents the current state of Uchinaaguchi as he knows it after spending a year in Okinawa. You might find it interesting also.

This video made me wonder if there exists a literature written in Uchinaguchi. For example, can you go to the big bookstore in Naha and find books written in Uchinaaguchi? If not, then why not encourage the creation of a body of literatue in Uchinaaguchi? I believe if there are writings in the hogen, then the language will not only survive but thrive.

Would someone or an organization in Okinawa be interested in sponsoring an annual Uchinaaguchi writing contest for school students? Scholarship prizes could be offered for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th places as well as honorable mentions. There could be a number of different categories, for example, articles and short stories. The winning entries could then be published in a book, adding to and encouraging the development of Uchinaaguchi litterature.

Wouldn’t this encourage young Okinawans to learn Uchinaaguchi?

A similar contest could also be held for college students and others in Okinawa, and the results could be published in a book similar to Bamboo Ridge – the Hawaii Writer’s Quarterly.

The purpose of the contests would be to encourage everyone, including overseas Uchinanchu, of all ages to learn and use Uchinaaguchi. For example, elementary school kids could write simple stories or articles such as:

My uncle is a fisherman. He fishes everyday. Everyone in the family eats his fish for dinner. One day a storm came, and he didn’t returned. Everyone was sad. They thought the ocean had swallowed him. But a week later, he returned. He said the storm blew him to another island. People there helped him repair his boat. Everyone was happy to see him again.

This story is made up of simple sentences, which I believe young children could learn to write. But it’s the active use of the language that’s important. I believe it’s critical for the preservation and development of Uchinaaguchi that young people start to use it to think of and write their stories.

From parents, teachers, and community leaders — everyone — there would be nothing but encouragement, support and praise. Who knows, this could snowball into something very wonderful.

Just an idea that came to mind…

Aloha!
Rodney Inefuku, Hawaii Kai

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This entry was posted in Culture, International, Language, Op-ed, Uchinaaguchi. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why Not an Uchinaaguchi Writing Contest?

  1. naminori says:

    My mom was born in Okinawa in 1933 and gave birth to me in 1974. My mom spoke fluent Uchinaaguchi, fluent Japanese, and broken English.

    My dad was born in the big island of Hawaii in 1932. He more or less was able to speak Uchinaaguchi. He understood the Okinawan language more than he was able to speak it.

    My family life when I was young and when my parents were still alive was too chaotic for me to learn Okinawan or even Japanese. I really regret not learning Okinawan from my mother. I believe she wanted me to learn Uchinaaguchi, but then couldn’t teach me the grammar of Uchinaaguchi because she couldn’t speak English well, and being the dummy I was at the time, I only understood English. Still do.

    I think an Uchinaaguchi writing contest would be a good idea. I am not too sure how to get one started, but then again I think the United Okinawan Association would be good place to start. The UOA has that newsletter that they mail to people.

    I always wondered if the Taira family, the owners of King’s Hawaiian Bakery, was involved in the Okinawan community in Hawaii and the mainland. The baked goods they sell throughout the United States seems to be doing pretty well. I was thinking, after reading your blog post, that maybe they could set up a scholarship for the contest you were talking about. It’s just a thought.

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