Updated: January 14, 2017
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5 Okinawan Dialect Words Which Don't Sound Like Japanese

Okinawa, the southernmost part of Japan, has a unique dialect because Okinawa wasn't part of Japan once before.

1. Haisai/Haitai ・ はいさい/はいたい

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Say "Haisai"!
While standard Japanese requires you to remember "Ohayo gozaimasu" (Good morning), "Konnichiwa" (Good afternoon) and "Kobanwa" (Good evening) correctly, life in Okinawa is a bit more easy-going. For men, please say "Haisai" as a form of greeting; ladies will use "Haitai" instead. Now, "Haisai" and "Haitai" are universal greetings that you can use at any time of the day, so they are highly versatile words!

2. Nifee deebiru ・ にふぇーでーびる

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Make someone's day by saying "nifee deebiru"
Japanese are extraordinarily polite people, so what better way to charm your way into their hearts by learning how to say "thank you"? In Okinawan dialect, "thank you" is "nifee deebiru". Score brownie points with the locals by saying "appee nifee deebiru" - It means "thank you very much"!

3. Karii ・ カリー

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Toast "Karii!" and make new friends
Drinking is a great way to loosen our inhibitions and take the first step in making new friends. Why not visit a couple of pubs and toast "Karii!" (Cheers in Okinawan dialect) to some friendly-looking Okinawans? I'm sure some of them will reciprocate in kind and say "Karii!" back and Voila! you are on your way to striking a conversation with them!

4. Churakaagii/Chibirahshi ・ ちゅらかーぎー/ちびらーしー

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For some of the finest-looking Japanese in the country, come to Okinawa!
Going back to history, Okinawa was mainly inhabited by Jomon-jin people whereas other parts of Japan were mainly comprised of Yayoi-jin people. This certainly explains why Okinawans are some of the most attractive-looking people in Japan, with their sharp noses and finely chiseled faces!

If you wish to compliment an Okinawan lady that she is beautiful, you can say "Churakaagii" (pretty lady). Handsome men are referred to as "Chibiraashii" in Okinawan dialect.

5. Nankurunaisa ・ なんくるないさ

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Everything is gonna be all right!
"Nankurunaisa", which means "everything is going to be fine in the end", perfectly captures the laid-back psyche of Okinawan people. They will shrug off their worries by saying "nankurunaisa" and continue to live life with a laugh. Perhaps this is why Okinawan people are known for their longevity. So impress Okinawan natives by saying "nankurunaisa", for you are speaking directly to their soul.
Knowing a few words of the native language of the place we are visiting helps us get more out of the trip, as we forge warmer and deeper connections with the locals. So please do use these words when you communicate with Okinawan people and have fun for your upcoming linguistic adventures in Okinawan dialect!

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