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 language second down 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
Historically attested range of the Ainu (solid red) and suspected former range (pink) based on toponymic evidence (red dots) [Vovin 1993], Matagi villages (purple dots), and Japanese isoglosses
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Ainu language is the language of Ainu people.[4]

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

Where it is spoken[change | change source]

In the past, particularly in the 19th centuries, Ainu language 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 language has many dialects including Chitose, Saru, Karapto and others.[4] Historically, Ainu people did not make a unified government, and then there has not been a standard Ainu language.[4] The dialects are so different from each other that a speaker of one of the dialects cannot recognize what a speaker of another dialect said.

Historically, Ainu language speakers were the neighbor of the speakers of Japanese language, Itelmen language and Nivkh language, which was spoken in the northern part of Sakhalin and considered to be an isolated language, too.

Sentence Structure[change | change source]

Ainu has the SOV word order similarly to Japanese.[6] Ainu phrases have left-branching structures. When telling about properties of a person or thing, the word of the property is said before it.

Words[change | change source]

The word ainu means "human being" and is the name used by Ainu people to refer to themselves. In contrast, kamuy means god, deity. Ainu people think that all of the existence who is supposed to have mind and plays a role in this world are kamuy.[6] Each sparrows or standing tree is a kind of kamuy.[6] In the Ainu people's perspective of the world, all goes well and human being can also be happy only when ainu and kamuy give a profit each other.[6]

Most of linguists think the numeral system of Ainu language base 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 bear's soul for the heaven.
  • Kunnechupu - The moon.
  • Kotan - village.
  • Konru - ice.
  • Sumari - (be pronounced as in "Shumari") - fox.
  • Seta - dog.
  • Tonoto - sake.
  • Nonno- flower.
  • Huci - (be 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.