Ainu language

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アイヌ・イタㇰ Aynu=itak
Multilingual sign at Ainu Museum (Shiraoi).JPG
Multilingual sign in Japanese, Ainu, English, Korean and Chinese. Ainu is the second language from the top on the right side of the sign.
Pronunciation[ˈainu iˈtak]
Native toJapan
Ethnicity15,000 Ainu people in Japan (no date)[1]
Native speakers
10 (2007)[2]
Katakana, Latin
Language codes
ISO 639-3ain
Historical expanse of Ainu.png
The historically-attested range of the Ainu (solid red) and the suspected former range (pink) based on toponymic evidence (red dots) [Vovin 1993], Matagi villages (purple dots), and Japanese isoglosses
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For a guide to IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

The Ainu language is the language of the Ainu people.[4]

It was not written until the 19th century. Since then, it has been written in katakana or the Latin alphabet.

Particularly in the 19th century, Ainu was spoken in Ezo (including Hokkaidō Island and the southern part of Chishima Islands), the southern part of Karapto (Sakhalin) and the northern part of Chishima Islands (Kuril Islands).[5]

Ainu has many dialects, including Chitose, Saru, and Karapto.[4] Historically, the Ainu had no unified government and so there is no standard dialect.[4] The dialects are so different from one another that a speaker of one dialect cannot understand a speaker of another dialect.

Historically, speakes of Ainu were located near speakers of Japanese, Itelmen and Nivkh, which was spoken in the northern part of Sakhalin and is considered to be another isolated language,.

Gramamr[change | change source]

Ainu has subject-object-verb word order, like Japanese.[6] Ainu phrases have left-branching structures: the word for property is before the word for a person or thing

Sample words[change | change source]

The word ainu means "human being" and is the name used by the Ainu to refer to themselves. In contrast, kamuy means "god". The Ainu think that all existence that has mind and plays a role in this world are kamuy.[6] Sparrows or standing trees are kamuy.[6] In the Ainu perspective of the world, all goes well and human being can also be happy if ainu and kamuy help each other.[6]

Most linguists think that the Ainu numeral system is based on twenty.[7]

number Ainu (in Saru dialect)[8] Nivkh[9] Japanese
1 siné ñaqř hi
2 tu meqř hu
3 re ţaqř mi
4 íne nəkř yo
5 asíkne t‘oqř itsu
6 iwán mu
7 árwan na
8 tupésan ya
9 sinépesan ko
10 wan mxoqř
  • Ape - fire.
  • Iyomante - A festival to send a bear's soul to heaven.
  • Kunnechupu - The moon.
  • Kotan - village.
  • Konru - ice.
  • Sumari - (pronounced as in "Shumari") - fox.
  • Seta - dog.
  • Tonoto - sake.
  • Nonno- flower.
  • Huci - (pronounced as in "Hoochi") - grandmother, Old women.
  • Pone - bone.
  • Pirka - Beauty,cute, kawaii.
  • wakka - "drinkable" water.

References[change | change source]

  1. Ainu language at Ethnologue (8th ed., 1974). Note: Data may come from an earlier edition.
  2. D. Bradley, "Languages of Mainland South-East Asia," in O. Miyaoka, O. Sakiyama, and M. E. Krauss (eds), The vanishing languages of the Pacific Rim, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2007), pp. 301–336. .
  3. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Ainu (Japan)". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Nakagawa 2013, pp. 8-11.
  5. 公益社団法人北海道アイヌ協会 (ed.). "アイヌ民族の概説 (general information of ethnic Ainu)" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Nakagawa 2013, pp. 26-27.
  7. Murasaki, Kyoko (2009-03-08). "Numerals in the Sakhalin Dialect of Ainu". Retrieved 2016-09-23.
  8. Nakagawa 2013, pp. 100-107.
  9. Stolz, Christel (2015-03-10). Christel Stolz (ed.). Language Empires in Comparative Perspective. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. p. 167. ISBN 978-3-11-040836-2. Retrieved 2016-09-22.

Bibliography[change | change source]

  • Nakagawa, Yutaka (2013-12-05). ニューエクスフレス アイヌ語. 白水社. ISBN 978-4-560-08639-1.