Amami-ben, a Ryūkyūan language closely related to the Okinawan dialect, has two main dialects: Northern Amami, which is spoken in the northern part of Amami Ôshima and Kikai Island; and Southern Amami, spoken in the south and on Yoron Island.
The following are some common words from the language:
メラベ (Merabe) 娘 (Musume, daughter)
イモーレ (imōre) いらっしゃいませ (irasshaimase, welcome!)
キョラムン (kyoramun) 美人 (bijin, a beautiful woman)
シギュロイ (shigyuroi) 寒い (samui, cold)
Kind of begs the question of whether it really does get cold on those tropical islands.
アチャイ (achai) 暑い (atsui, hot)
One of the few words that bears some resemblance to Japanese.
キョラサ (kyorasa) 美しい (utsukushii, beautiful)
Note the similarity between “kyoramun” and “kyorasa”. Also, in the Okinawan language the word for “beautiful” is chura or churasa. Mun comes from the Japanese word mono which means “thing” or “person”. As we have seen in other posts, “o” in Japanese words gets pronounced as a “u” in Okinawa and Amami, such that Okinawa is actually pronounced “Uchinā” by the locals.
カナシャ (kanasha) 恋しい (koishii, beloved, dear)
Because kanasa sounds like the standard Japanese word for “sad” (i.e. kanashii) many Japanese mistake the meaning of the word in songs like “Ippē Kanasando”.
インガ (inga) 男 (otoko, man)
ウナグ (unagu) 女 (onna, woman)
ネッセ (nesse) 若者 (wakamono, a young person, youth)
ハウッチュ (haotchu) 老人 (rôjin, an old person)
Similar to both Chinese and Okinawan. In Chinese, 老 is pronounced lao. In Okinawan 人 is famously read chu, as in shimanchu (島人).
しぅじゅつ (shujutsu) 夫婦 (fûfu, a husband and wife)
イクサタン (ikusatan) 叱られる (shikarareru, to be scolded)
ハチカン (hachikan) 恥ずかしい (hazukashii, embarrassing, shameful)
キムチャゲィ (kimuchagei) 可哀想 (kawaisô, pitiful, poor)
ダリティ (dariti) 疲れた (tsukareta, tired)
テーゲ (tehge) たくさん (takusan, a lot, many, much)
I’ve seen this “tehge” used in other Japanese dialects, such as Miyazaki’s.
アグマサ (agumasa) 眠たい (nemutai, sleepy)
Well, as you can see from this albeit limited sampling of words and phrases that the Amami dialect bears almost no resemblance to the Japanese language. I do see some similarities with Okinawan, though, but my study of that language is only cursory at best. It would be interesting to look up the words in Okinawan and see how many common words there are.