The Digital Museum Project for the documentation of Ikema Ryukyuan

Date
2009-03-14
Authors
Takubo, Yukinori
Hayashi, Yuka
Kurumada, Chigusa
Motoki, Tamaki
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The object of this presentation is to introduce a prototype of the Digital Museum Project in our attempt at the documentation of Ikema, one of the endangered dialects of Southern Ryukyuan, spoken on Miyakojima Island, Okinawa, Japan. The language is no longer acquired by younger people, and is spoken fluently only by people in their 60's or older. We have been studying one of the dialects of the language spoken in Nishihara since January 2006, and have made recordings of natural discourse and elicitation sessions totaling over 400 hours. The local people, especially the senior generations, are deeply concerned about the imminent disappearance of their language and culture, and have been making every effort to pass them on to younger generations. Their enthusiasm culminated in the creation of a vernacular musical titled Nishihara Muradate (The making of the Nishihara village), which depicts their migration to Nishihara from the Ikema Island, their ancestral island, some 130 years ago. It was performed in July 2007, at the 40th anniversary of the Meeting of the Ikema people, with more than a hundred people participating in the performance, was filmed and made into a DVD. Attempts at documenting the language are also being made by a nursery school principal, who has written fairy stories for children, scored traditional songs, and collected proverbs for raising children, all prepared bilingually in Ikema and the standard Japanese. In order to store the recordings we have made and to make the works created by local people accessible to the public, we are constructing a digital museum, a web-based four layered digital storage space. The first two layers are the exhibit space, open to the public and store the general introduction to the language and culture of Ikema, Nisihara Muradate, fairy tales for children, old songs, all subtitled in three languages: Ikema, the standard Japanese, and English. The exhibit space will serve as a forum for the local people in Nishihara, as well as for the people who have migrated to other parts of the world. The second two layers, the access to which is password protected, is for researchers specializing in Ryukyuans. The third layer stores transcribed recordings with translations, papers on Ikema and the related dialects. The fourth layer contains all the raw data, which are accessible only to our research group. We will make a demonstration of the prototype of the museum in this presentation.
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