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Okinawa dialect now taught to policemen

Date Posted: 2006-07-14

Okinawa plice are reaching out to communicate with elderly citizens whose knowledge of Japanese becomes muddled when they’re hurt or confused.

Urasoe Police Station is taking a pro-active approach, and is teaching its officers to speak Hogan, the Okinawa dialect. Officials say few Okinawans under age 35 know the traditional language. The move came after a young officer encountered a senior citizen wandering in a dangerous street, and she couldn’t understand him. Repeated questioning showed the elderly woman couldn’t understand much Japanese.

There are 2,500 Okinawa Prefectural Police currently serving the communities, with six percent under age 20. Another 24% of the force is 20-30, and 27% are age 30-40. Officials say the training is essential for good community service.

The phrase ‘Thank You’ is arrigatou in Japanese, but niheedeebill in local dialect. ‘Welcome’ is Irasshaimase in Japanese and mensorey in Hogan Okinawa dialect.

Senior police officials say they’ll have dozens of officers going through the dialect training in coming months, and predict it will improve community relations as they deal with missing senior citizens of drunken seniors.

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