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Ainu language

Ainu language

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Encyclopedia
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages
Ainu languages
The Ainu languages were a small language family spoken on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō, the southern half of the island of Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, an island chain that stretches from Hokkaidō to the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. They are alternately considered a...

, spoken by members of the Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

.

Until the twentieth century, Ainu languages were also spoken throughout the southern half of the island of Sakhalin
Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

 and by small numbers of people in the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

. All but the Hokkaidō language are extinct, with the last speaker of Sakhalin Ainu having died in 1994; and Hokkaidō Ainu is moribund
Endangered language
An endangered language is a language that is at risk of falling out of use. If it loses all its native speakers, it becomes a dead language. If eventually no one speaks the language at all it becomes an "extinct language"....

, though there are ongoing attempts to revive it.

Ainu has no generally accepted genealogical relationship
Genetic relationship (linguistics)
In linguistics, genetic relationship is the usual term for the relationship which exists between languages that are members of the same language family. The term genealogical relationship is sometimes used to avoid confusion with the unrelated use of the term in biological genetics...

 to any other language family. For the most frequent proposals, see Ainu languages
Ainu languages
The Ainu languages were a small language family spoken on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō, the southern half of the island of Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, an island chain that stretches from Hokkaidō to the southern tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula. They are alternately considered a...

.

Speakers


Ainu is a moribund language, and has been endangered for at least the past few decades. Most of the 25,000 – 200,000 ethnic Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

 in Japan speak only Japanese. In the town of Nibutani
Nibutani
The Nibutani , Niputay in Ainu, district is part of the town of Biratori in Hokkaidō, Japan, a particularly large proportion of the population of which is of the indigenous Ainu ethnicity. It is the site of the Nibutani Dam, and the hometown of Shigeru Kayano. Nibutani is also the site of two Ainu...

 (part of Biratori, Hokkaidō
Biratori, Hokkaido
is a town located in Saru District, Hidaka, Hokkaidō, Japan.As of 2008, the town has an estimated population of 5,909 and a density of 7.95 persons per km². The total area is 743.16 km²....

) where many of the remaining native speakers live, there are 100 speakers, out of which only 15 used the language every day in the late 1980s.

However, use of the language is on the rise. There is currently an active movement to revitalize the language — mainly in Hokkaidō but also elsewhere — to reverse the centuries-long decline in the number of speakers. This has led to an increasing number of second-language learners, especially in Hokkaidō, in large part due to the pioneering efforts of the late Ainu folklorist, activist and former Diet member Shigeru Kayano
Shigeru Kayano
was one of the last native speakers of the Ainu language and a leading figure in the Ainu ethnic movement in Japan.- Early life :...

, himself a native speaker.

Phonology


Ainu syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

s are CV(C) (that is, they have an obligatory syllable onset and an optional syllable coda
Syllable coda
In phonology, a syllable coda comprises the consonant sounds of a syllable that follow the nucleus, which is usually a vowel. The combination of a nucleus and a coda is called a rime. Some syllables consist only of a nucleus with no coda...

) and there are few consonant cluster
Consonant cluster
In linguistics, a consonant cluster is a group of consonants which have no intervening vowel. In English, for example, the groups and are consonant clusters in the word splits....

s.

Vowels


There are five vowel
Vowel
In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as English ah! or oh! , pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! , where there is a constriction or closure at some...

 sounds in Ainu:
  Front
Front vowel
A front vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a front vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Front vowels are sometimes also...

 
Central
Central vowel
A central vowel is a type of vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a central vowel is that the tongue is positioned halfway between a front vowel and a back vowel...

 
Back
Back vowel
A back vowel is a type of vowel sound used in spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a back vowel is that the tongue is positioned as far back as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant. Back vowels are sometimes also called dark...

Close
Close vowel
A close vowel is a type of vowel sound used in many spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a close vowel is that the tongue is positioned as close as possible to the roof of the mouth without creating a constriction that would be classified as a consonant.This term is prescribed by the...

i u
Mid
Mid vowel
A mid vowel is a vowel sound used in some spoken languages. The defining characteristic of a mid vowel is that the tongue is positioned mid-way between an open vowel and a close vowel...

e o
Open
Open vowel
An open vowel is defined as a vowel sound in which the tongue is positioned as far as possible from the roof of the mouth. Open vowels are sometimes also called low vowels in reference to the low position of the tongue...

a

Consonants

  Bilabial
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Labio-
velar
Alveolar
Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Palatal
Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar
Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal
Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Stop
Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

p   t   k
Affricate
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

    ts      
Nasal
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

m   n      
Fricative
Fricative consonant
Fricatives are consonants produced by forcing air through a narrow channel made by placing two articulators close together. These may be the lower lip against the upper teeth, in the case of ; the back of the tongue against the soft palate, in the case of German , the final consonant of Bach; or...

    s     h
Approximant
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

  w   j    
Tap/flap
Flap consonant
In phonetics, a flap or tap is a type of consonantal sound, which is produced with a single contraction of the muscles so that one articulator is thrown against another.-Contrast with stops and trills:...

    ɾ      


Plosives /p t ts k/ may be voiced [b d dz ɡ] between vowels and after nasals. Both /ti/ and /tsi/ are realized as [t͡ʃi], and /s/ becomes [ʃ] before /i/ and at the end of syllables. There is some variation among dialects; in the Sakhalin
Sakhalin
Sakhalin or Saghalien, is a large island in the North Pacific, lying between 45°50' and 54°24' N.It is part of Russia, and is Russia's largest island, and is administered as part of Sakhalin Oblast...

  dialect, syllable-final /p, t, k, r/ lenited
Lenition
In linguistics, lenition is a kind of sound change that alters consonants, making them "weaker" in some way. The word lenition itself means "softening" or "weakening" . Lenition can happen both synchronically and diachronically...

 and merged into /x/. After an /i/, this /x/ is pronounced [ç]. A glottal stop [ʔ] is often inserted at the beginning of words, before an accented vowel, but is non-phonemic.

There is a pitch accent
Pitch accent
Pitch accent is a linguistic term of convenience for a variety of restricted tone systems that use variations in pitch to give prominence to a syllable or mora within a word. The placement of this tone or the way it is realized can give different meanings to otherwise similar words...

 system. The accentuation of specific words varies somewhat from dialect to dialect. Generally, words including affix
Affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es have a high pitch on the stem, or on the first syllable if it is closed or has a diphthong, while other words have the high pitch on the second syllable, although there are exceptions to this generalization.

Typology and grammar


Typologically
Linguistic typology
Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the world's languages...

, Ainu is similar in word order (and some aspects of phonology) to Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

.

Ainu has a canonical word order of SOV, and it uses postpositions rather than prepositions. Noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

s can cluster to modify one another; the head comes at the end. Verbs, which are inherently either transitive
Transitivity (grammatical category)
In linguistics, transitivity is a property of verbs that relates to whether a verb can take direct objects and how many such objects a verb can take...

 or intransitive, accept various derivational affixes
Derivation (linguistics)
In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

. Ainu does not have grammatical gender
Grammatical gender
Grammatical gender is defined linguistically as a system of classes of nouns which trigger specific types of inflections in associated words, such as adjectives, verbs and others. For a system of noun classes to be a gender system, every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be...

. Plurals are indicated by a suffix.

Classical Ainu, the language of the yukar
Yukar
are Ainu sagas that form a long rich tradition of oral literature. In older periods the epics were performed by both men and women; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Ainu culture was in decline, women were generally the most skillful performers....

, is polysynthetic, with incorporation
Incorporation (linguistics)
Incorporation is a phenomenon by which a word, usually a verb, forms a kind of compound with, for instance, its direct object or adverbial modifier, while retaining its original syntactic function....

 of nouns and adverbs; this is greatly reduced in the modern colloquial language.

Applicatives
Applicative voice
The applicative voice is a grammatical voice which promotes an oblique argument of a verb to the object argument, and indicates the oblique role within the meaning of the verb. When the applicative voice is applied to a verb, its valency may be increased by one...

 may be used in Ainu to place nouns in the dative
Dative case
The dative case is a grammatical case generally used to indicate the noun to whom something is given, as in "George gave Jamie a drink"....

, instrumental
Instrumental case
The instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action...

, comitative
Comitative case
The comitative case , also known as the associative case , is a grammatical case that denotes companionship, and is used where English would use "in company with" or "together with"...

, locative
Locative case
Locative is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions "in", "on", "at", and "by"...

, allative
Allative case
Allative case is a type of the locative cases used in several languages. The term allative is generally used for the lative case in the majority of languages which do not make finer distinctions.-Finnish language:In the Finnish language, the allative is the fifth of the locative cases, with the...

, or ablative
Ablative case
In linguistics, ablative case is a name given to cases in various languages whose common characteristic is that they mark motion away from something, though the details in each language may differ...

 roles. Besides freestanding nouns, these roles may be assigned to incorporated nouns, and such use of applicatives is in fact mandatory for incorporating oblique
Oblique case
An oblique case in linguistics is a noun case of synthetic languages that is used generally when a noun is the object of a verb or a preposition...

 nouns. Like incorporation, applicatives have grown less common in the modern language.

Ainu has a closed class of plural verbs, and some of these are suppletive
Suppletion
In linguistics and etymology, suppletion is traditionally understood as the use of one word as the inflected form of another word when the two words are not cognate. For those learning a language, suppletive forms will be seen as "irregular" or even "highly irregular". The term "suppletion" implies...

.

Writing


Officially, the Ainu language is written in a modified version of the Japanese
Japanese language
is a language spoken by over 130 million people in Japan and in Japanese emigrant communities. It is a member of the Japonic language family, which has a number of proposed relationships with other languages, none of which has gained wide acceptance among historical linguists .Japanese is an...

 katakana
Katakana
is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet . The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora...

 syllabary. There is also a Latin
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

-based alphabet in use. The Ainu Times
Ainu Times
The Ainu Times is the only newspaper published in the Ainu language. It uses both special katakana and romanizations in its articles. Its current editor is Takashi Hamada.-External links:*...

publishes in both. In the Latin orthography, /ts/ is spelt c and /j/ as y; [ʔ], which only occurs initially before accented vowels, is not written. Other phonemes use the same character as the IPA transcription given above. An equals sign (=) is used to mark morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

 boundaries, such as after a prefix. Its pitch accent is denoted by acute accent
Acute accent
The acute accent is a diacritic used in many modern written languages with alphabets based on the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.-Apex:An early precursor of the acute accent was the apex, used in Latin inscriptions to mark long vowels.-Greek:...

 in Latin (e.g., á). This is usually not denoted in katakana.

Special katakana for the Ainu language


A Unicode
Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...

 standard exists for a set of extended katakana
Katakana
is a Japanese syllabary, one component of the Japanese writing system along with hiragana, kanji, and in some cases the Latin alphabet . The word katakana means "fragmentary kana", as the katakana scripts are derived from components of more complex kanji. Each kana represents one mora...

 (Katakana Phonetic Extensions) for transliterating the Ainu language and other languages written with katakana. These characters are used to write final consonants and sounds that cannot be expressed using conventional katakana. The extended katakana are based on regular katakana and either are smaller in size or have a handakuten. As few fonts yet support these extensions, workarounds exist for many of the characters, such as using a smaller font with the regular katakana ク ku to produce to represent the separate small katakana glyph ku used as in (Aynu itak).

This is a list of special katakana used in transcribing the Ainu language. Most of the characters are of the extended set of katakana, though a few have been used historically in Japanese, and thus are part of the main set of katakana. A number of previously proposed characters have not been added to Unicode as they can be represented as a sequence of two existing codepoints.
Character Unicode Appearance Name Ainu usage
31F0 Katakana Letter Small Ku Final
Syllable coda
In phonology, a syllable coda comprises the consonant sounds of a syllable that follow the nucleus, which is usually a vowel. The combination of a nucleus and a coda is called a rime. Some syllables consist only of a nucleus with no coda...

 k
31F1 Katakana Letter Small Shi Final s [ɕ]
31F2 Katakana Letter Small Su Final s, used to emphasize it's pronounced [s] rather than normal [ɕ]. [s] and [ʃ] are allophone
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

s in Ainu.
31F3 Katakana Letter Small To Final t
31F4 Katakana Letter Small Nu Final n
31F5 Katakana Letter Small Ha Final h [x], succeeding the vowel a. (e.g. ah) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F6 Katakana Letter Small Hi Final h [ç], succeeding the vowel i. (e.g. ih) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F7 Katakana Letter Small Fu Final h [x], succeeding the vowel u. (e.g. uh) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F8 Katakana Letter Small He Final h [x], succeeding the vowel e. (e.g. eh) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F9 Katakana Letter Small Ho Final h [x], succeeding the vowel o. (e.g. oh) Sakhalin dialect only.
31FA Katakana Letter Small Mu Final m
31FB Katakana Letter Small Ra Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel a. (e.g. ar)
31FC Katakana Letter Small Ri Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel i. (e.g. ir)
31FD Katakana Letter Small Ru Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel u. (e.g. ur)
31FE Katakana Letter Small Re Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel e. (e.g. er)
31FF Katakana Letter Small Ro Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel o. (e.g. or)
Rejected characters (Unicode represents them using combining character
Combining character
In digital typography, combining characters are characters that are intended to modify other characters. The most common combining characters in the Latin script are the combining diacritical marks ....

s)
31F7 + 309A Katakana Letter Small Pu Final p
30BB + 309A Katakana Letter Se With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark ce [tse]
30C4 + 309A Katakana Letter Tu With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark tu. ツ゚ and ト゚ are interchangeable.
30C8 + 309A Katakana Letter To With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark tu. ツ゚ and ト゚ are interchangeable.

Basic syllables

a
[a]
i
[i]
u
[u̜]
e
[e]
o
[o]
a ア
[a]
i イ
[i]
u ウ
[u̜]
e エ
[e]
o オ
[o]
k
[k] 1
ka カ
[ka]
ki キ
[ki]
ku ク
[ku̜]
ke ケ
[ke]
ko コ
[ko]
-k
[-k̚]
s
[s] ~ [ʃ]
sa シャ/サ 2
[sa] ~ [ʃa]
si シ
[ʃi]
su シュ/ス 2
[su̜] ~ [ʃu̜]
se シェ/セ 2
[se] ~ [ʃe]
so ショ/ソ 2
[so] ~ [ʃo]
-s / 2
[-ɕ]
t
[t] 1
ta タ
[ta]
ci チ
[tʃi]
tu ト゜/ツ゜ 2
[tu̜]
te テ
[te]
to ト
[to]
-t /ッ 3
[-t̚]
c
[ts] ~ [tʃ] 1
ca チャ
[tsa] ~ [tʃa]
ci チ
[tʃi]
cu チュ
[tsu̜] ~ [tʃu̜]
ce チェ
[tse] ~ [tʃe]
co チョ
[tso] ~ [tʃo]
n
[n]
na ナ
[na]
ni ニ
[nʲi]
nu ヌ
[nu̜]
ne ネ
[ne]
no ノ
[no]
-n /ン 4
[-n, -m-, -ŋ-] 5
h 6
[h]
ha ハ
[ha]
hi ヒ
[çi]
hu フ
[ɸu̜]
he ヘ
[he]
ho ホ
[ho]
-h 6
[-x]
-ah
[-ax]
-ih
[-iç]
-uh
[-u̜x]
-eh
[-ex]
-oh
[-ox]
p
[p] 1
pa パ
[pa]
pi ピ
[pi]
pu プ
[pu̜]
pe ペ
[pe]
po ポ
[po]
-p
[-p̚]
m
[m]
ma マ
[ma]
mi ミ
[mi]
mu ム
[mu̜]
me メ
[me]
mo モ
[mo]
-m
[-m]
y
[j]
ya ヤ
[ja]
yu ユ
[ju̜]
ye イェ
[je]
yo ヨ
[jo]
r
[ɾ]
ra ラ
[ɾa]
ri リ
[ɾi]
ru ル
[ɾu̜]
re レ
[ɾe]
ro ロ
[ɾo]
-ar 2
[-aɾ]
-ir 2
[-iɾ]
-ur 2
[-u̜ɾ]
-er 2
[-eɾ]
-or 2
[-oɾ]
-r 2
[-ɾ]
w
[w]
wa ワ
[wa]
wi ウィ/ヰ 2
[wi]
we ウェ/ヱ 2
[we]
wo ウォ/ヲ 2
[wo]
1: k, t, c, p are sometimes voiced [ɡ], [d], [dz] ~ [dʒ], [b], respectively. It doesn't change the meaning of a word, but it sounds more rough/masculine. When they are voiced, they may be written as g, d, j, dz, b, ガ, ダ, ヂャ, ヅァ, バ, etc.
2: Both used according to actual pronunciations, or to writer's preferred styles.
3: ッ is final t at the end of a word. (e.g. pet = ペッ = ペ) In the middle of a polysyllabic word, it's a final consonant preceding the initial with a same value. (e.g. orta /otta/ = オッタ. オタ is not preferred.)
4: At the end of a word, n can be written either or ン. In the middle of a polysyllabic word, it's ン. (e.g. tan-mosir = タンモシ = タ+モシ, but not タモシ.)
5: [m] before [p], [ŋ] before [k], [n] elsewhere. Unlike Japanese, it does not become other sounds such as nasal vowel
Nasal vowel
A nasal vowel is a vowel that is produced with a lowering of the velum so that air escapes both through nose as well as the mouth. By contrast, oral vowels are ordinary vowels without this nasalisation...

s.
6: Initial h [h] and final h [x] are different phenomes. Final h exists in Sakhalin dialect only.

Diphthongs


Final
Syllable coda
In phonology, a syllable coda comprises the consonant sounds of a syllable that follow the nucleus, which is usually a vowel. The combination of a nucleus and a coda is called a rime. Some syllables consist only of a nucleus with no coda...

 [ɪ] is spelled y in Latin, small ィ in katakana. Final [ʊ] is spelt w in Latin, small ゥ in katakana. [ae] is spelt ae, アエ, or アェ.

Example with initial k:
[kaɪ] [ku̜ɪ] [koɪ] [kaʊ] [kiʊ] [keʊ] [koʊ] [keɪ]
kay kuy koy kaw kiw kew key
カィ クィ コィ カゥ キゥ ケゥ コゥ ケィ


Since the above rule is used systematically, some katakana combinations have different sounds from conventional Japanese.
ウィ クィ スィ ティ トゥ フィ
Ainu [wi], [u̜ɪ] [ku̜ɪ] [su̜ɪ] [teɪ] [toʊ] [ɸu̜ɪ]
Japanese [wi] [kɰi] ~ [kwi] [si] [ti] [tɯ] [ɸi]

Long vowels


There are long vowels in Sakhalin dialect. Either circumflex
Circumflex
The circumflex is a diacritic used in the written forms of many languages, and is also commonly used in various romanization and transcription schemes. It received its English name from Latin circumflexus —a translation of the Greek περισπωμένη...

 or macron
Macron
A macron, from the Greek , meaning "long", is a diacritic placed above a vowel . It was originally used to mark a long or heavy syllable in Greco-Roman metrics, but now marks a long vowel...

 is used in Latin, long vowel sign
Choon
The , also known as ', ', or Katakana-Hiragana Prolonged Sound Mark by the Unicode Consortium, is a Japanese symbol which indicates a chōon, or a long vowel of two morae in length. Its form is a horizontal or vertical line in the center of the text with the width of one kanji or kana character...

 (ー) is used in katakana.

Example with initial k:
[kaː] [kiː] [kuː] [keː] [koː]
カー キー クー ケー コー

Oral literature


The Ainu have a rich oral tradition
Oral literature
Oral literature corresponds in the sphere of the spoken word to literature as literature operates in the domain of the written word. It thus forms a generally more fundamental component of culture, but operates in many ways as one might expect literature to do...

 of hero-sagas called yukar
Yukar
are Ainu sagas that form a long rich tradition of oral literature. In older periods the epics were performed by both men and women; during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Ainu culture was in decline, women were generally the most skillful performers....

, which retain a number of grammatical and lexical archaisms.

See also

  • List of Ainu terms
  • Ainu music
    Ainu music
    Ainu music refers to the musical traditions of the Ainu people of northern Japan.Genres include the oldest, yukar , which is a form of epic poetry, and upopo, in which "the second contrapuntal voice had to imitate the musical formula in the first contrapuntal voice , at an interval much shorter...

  • Kannari Matsu
  • Kyōsuke Kindaichi
    Kyosuke Kindaichi
    was an eminent Japanese linguist from Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. He is chiefly known for his dictations of yukar, or sagas of the Ainu people. Linguist Haruhiko Kindaichi was his son....

  • Bronisław Piłsudski
    Bronisław Piłsudski
    Bronisław Piotr Piłsudski , brother of Józef Piłsudski, was a Polish cultural anthropologist who conducted outstanding research on the Ainu ethnic group, which then inhabited Sakhalin Island, but now live mostly on the Japanese island of Hokkaidō, with only a small minority left on...


External links