|Region||Tokunoshima of the Amami Islands, Kagoshima Prefecture|
The Tokunoshima language (シマグチ (島口) Shimaguchi or シマユミィタ Shimayumiita), also Toku-No-Shima, is a dialect cluster spoken on Tokunoshima, Kagoshima Prefecture of southwestern Japan. It is part of the Amami–Okinawan languages, which are part of the Japonic languages.
Okamura (2007) posits two divisions of Tokunoshima: Kametsu–Amagi in the north and Isen in the south. Kametsu is the traditional politico-cultural center of the island. It has been a center of distributions of new lexical traits, some of which were not confined in Tokunoshima Town but spread to Amagi Town in the northeast and, less frequently, to Isen. The dialects of Isen are considered more conservative by the speakers.
According to Okamura Takahiro (b. 1936 in Asama, Amagi Town), the speakers of Tokunoshima call their tongues sïmagucï, which consists of two morphemes. The first part sïma (Standard Japanese shima) refers to an island both in Standard Japanese and Tokunoshima but it also means (one's own) local community in Tokunoshima and other Amami dialects. The second part kucï (Standard Japanese kuchi) means a mouth, and by extension, speech. Hence, sïmagucï refers to the speech of one's own community and of the island as a whole. Note that sïmagucï is more strongly associated with the former because the speakers of Tokunoshima are fully aware that each shima has a distinct language.
The following is the phonology of the Kametsu dialect, which is based on Hirayama et al. (1986).
As with most Ryukyuan languages to the north of Central Okinawan, stops are described as "plain" C’ and "glottalized" C‘. Phonetically, the two series are lightly aspirated [Cʰ] and tenuis [C˭], respectively.
Tokunoshima has /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/, /ɨ/ and /ɘ/, long and short.
Only major sound correspondences are listed.