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Akitian
秋津語 Akitugu
Spoken in Akitsu
Ethnicity Akitians
Native speakers ~520,000  (2014)
Language family
Japonic
  • Akitian
Official status
Recognised minority language in Akitsuflag Akitsu
Regulated by Akitian Linguistics Institute
Language codes
ISO 639-1 at
ISO 639-2 atn
ISO 639-3 atn

The Akitian language (秋津語, Akitugu) is one of the two official languages of Akitsu. It is classified as part of the Japonic language family, alongside Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages.

Phonology

Akitian phonology is extremely similar to Japanaese phonology. Things shared by Akitian and Japanese include a voicing opposition for obstruents, CV(C) syllable structure, moraic rhythm, and pitch accent. Akitian vowels are even identical to Japanese vowels. However, Akitian does have differences from Japanese. For example, the voiceless bilabial fricative, the "f" sound in English which is also present in Japanese, is not present in Akitian. The "t͡s" sound is also not present in Akitian. Also, some Akitian words have a glottal stop, something not common in Japanese.

However, while Akitian phonology is extremely similar to Japanese, Akitian phonotactics are more similar to Ryukyuan.

Writing system

Akitian katakana
k-s- t-n-h-m-y-r-w-
a
i
u ツ゚
e Unicode Japanese Katakana Old E
o
Akitian katakana coda character
n

The Akitian writing system uses Japanese katakana characters drived from Japanese. This system of writing was adopted by the King Min, ruler of the ruling Kingdom of Shoku at the time, in 1043. Before this, Akitian had largely been written using a system of transcribing Chinese characters known as hanbun. King Min thought this system was clunky and thus tasked several royal officials with bringing in a simplified system of writing. They eventually traveled to Japan and brought back hiragana and katakana. This was adapted to fit the Akitian language.

Since then, katakana was used in official writing when in Akitian. This is in stark contrast to Japan at the time, which used classical Chinese, and the Ryukyu islands later, which used Hiragana.

Since Akitian contains several sounds that don't exist in traditional Japanese, some characters were invented in order to ensure that characters for all the sounds exist. This was done for the [ji] and [tu͍] sounds, both of which are not present in Japanese. The character for [ji] is ᅩ, made by flipping the kana for [i] (イ) upside down and straightening the horizontal line. The character for [tu͍] is ツ゚, created by adding a handakuten (゜) to the Japanese katakana for [t͡su͍] (written ツ) indicate that it is [tu͍] rather than [t͡su͍]. ツ゚ is the only katakana with a handakuten to be considered a kana in it's own right, rather than just a kana with a diatric mark.

Another important thing to note is that in Akitian, the [wi] and [we] sounds were never dropped, and thus the kana ヰ for [wi] and ヱ for [we] are retained in Akitian. Akitian also retains Unicode Japanese Katakana Old E for [e] and エ for [je], while in Japanese the distinction between these two characters was lost and in modern times エ has become the character for [e].

Grammar

Grammatically, Akitian is more similar to Okinawan than to Japanese. Like Japanese and Okinawan, Akitian useas a Subject-Object-Verb word order with extensive use of particles. For example, like Okinawan but unlike Japanese, Akitian distinguishes between terminal forms and attributive forms. That said, Akitian isn't identical to Okinawan either. Akitian has clusivity for first-person pronouns, unlike both Japanese and Okinawan.

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