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
RegionHokkaido, formerly Russia
Ethnicity15,000 Ainu people in Japan (no date)[1]
Native speakers
10 (2007)[2]
Katakana (current), Latin (current), Cyrillic (Russia, obsolete)
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
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.

Ainu (/ˈn/;[4] Ainu: アイヌ・イタㇰ Aynu=itak; Japanese: アイヌ語 Ainu-go) is a language spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Until the 20th century, Ainu languages were also spoken throughout the southern half of the island of Sakhalin and by small numbers of people in the Kuril Islands. There are three main dialects[5] along with 19 other dialects of the Ainu languages. Only the Hokkaido variant survives, the last speaker of Sakhalin Ainu having died in 1994. Hokkaido Ainu is moribund, though attempts are being made to revive it. The Japanese government made a decision to recognize Ainu as indigenous in June 2008.[5] Currently, the Japanese government is constructing a facility dedicated to preserving Ainu culture, including the language.[6]

Ainu has no generally accepted genealogical relationship to any other language family.


Pirka Kotan Museum, an Ainu language and cultural center in Sapporo (Jozankei area)

Depending on the classification system used, According to UNESCO, Ainu is considered an endangered language.[5] As of 2016, Ethnologue lists Ainu as class 8b: "nearly extinct".[7] It has been endangered since before the 1960s. There are approximately 30,000 Ainu people in Japan,[8] and only 15 speakers remaining with 304 people understanding the Ainu language. However, those numbers are uncertain because of other Ainu speakers who have not claimed as Ainu.[9]


In general, Ainu people are hard to find because they tend to hide their identity as Ainu. Especially in the young generation, 66% of Ainu youth do not know that they are Ainu.[8] In addition, because of Ainu students being strongly recommended to speak Japanese in school due to assimilation, and MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) being only concerned with English and Japanese,[10] it has been challenging for the Ainu language to be revitalized.

Despite this, there is an active movement to revitalize the language, mainly in Hokkaido but also elsewhere such as Kanto.[5] Ainu oral literature has been documented both in hopes of safeguarding it for future generations, as well as using it as a teaching tool for language learners.[11] Beginning in 1987, the Ainu Association of Hokkaido with approximately 500 members[5] began hosting 14 Ainu language classes, Ainu language instructors training courses and Family Ainu Learning Initiative[8] and have released instructional materials on the language, including a textbook.[11] Also, Wajin linguists teach Ainu and train students to become Ainu instructor in university.[8] In spite of these efforts, the Ainu language is not yet taught as a subject in any secondary school in Japan.[5]

Due to the Ainu Cultural Promotion Act of 1997, Ainu dictionaries transformed and became tools for improving communication and preserving records of the Ainu language in order to revitalize the language and promote the culture.[12] There is now an increasing number of second-language learners, especially in Hokkaido, in large part due to the pioneering efforts of the late Ainu folklorist, activist and former Diet member Shigeru Kayano, himself a native speaker, who first opened an Ainu language school in 1987 funded by Ainu Kyokai,[9]. The Ainu Association of Hokkaido is the main supporter of Ainu culture in Hokkaido. Ainu language classes have been conducted in some areas in Japan and small numbers of young people are learning Ainu. Efforts have also been made to produce web-accessible materials for conversational Ainu because most documentation of the Ainu language focused on the recording of folktales.[13] Ainu language has been in media as well; the first Ainu radio program was called FM Pipaushi which runs since 2001 along with 15 minute radio Ainu language lessons funded by FRPAC, and news paper "The Ainu Times" has been established since 1997.[9] In addition, the Ainu language has been seen in public domains such as the outlet shopping complex's name, "Rera" which means "wind" in Minami Chitose area and the name "Pewre" meaning "young" at shopping centre in Chitose area. There is also a basketball team in Sapporo named "Pera Kamuy" which means "God of Wind".[5] The well-known Japanese fashion magazine's name, "Non-no" is also in the Ainu language, which means "flower".


Ainu syllables are CV(C), that is, they have an obligatory syllable onset and an optional syllable coda. There are few consonant clusters.

There are five vowel sounds in Ainu: /a, e, i, o, u/.


Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive p t k
Affricate t͡s
Fricative s h
Nasal m n
Approximant j w
Flap 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 dialect, syllable-final /p, t, k, r/ lenited 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 system. The accentuation of specific words varies somewhat from dialect to dialect. Generally, words including affixes 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[edit]

Typologically, Ainu is similar in word order (and some aspects of phonology) to Japanese.

Ainu has a canonical word order of SOV,[14] and it uses postpositions rather than prepositions. Nouns can cluster to modify one another; the head comes at the end. Verbs, which are inherently either transitive or intransitive, accept various derivational affixes. Ainu does not have grammatical gender. Plurals are indicated by a suffix.[14]

Classical Ainu, the language of the yukar, is polysynthetic, with incorporation of nouns and adverbs; this is greatly reduced in the modern colloquial language.

Applicatives may be used in Ainu to place nouns in the dative, instrumental, comitative, locative, allative, or ablative roles. Besides freestanding nouns, these roles may be assigned to incorporated nouns, and such use of applicatives is in fact mandatory for incorporating oblique 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.


The Ainu language is written in a modified version of the Japanese katakana syllabary. There is also a Latin-based alphabet in use. The Ainu Times publishes in both. In the Latin orthography, /ts/ is spelled c and /j/ is spelled y; the glottal stop, [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 boundaries, such as after a prefix. Its pitch accent is denoted by acute accent in Latin script (e.g., á). This is usually not denoted in katakana.

Rev. John Batchelor was an English missionary who lived among the Ainu, studied them and published many works on the Ainu language.[15][16] Batchelor wrote extensively, both works about the Ainu language and works in Ainu itself. He was the first to write in Ainu and use a writing system for it.[17] Batchelor's translations of various books of the Bible were published from 1887, and his New Testament translation was published in Yokohama in 1897 by a joint committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society, the American Bible Society, and the National Bible Society of Scotland. Other books written in Ainu include dictionaries, a grammar, and books on Ainu culture and language.[18]

Special katakana for the Ainu language[edit]

A Unicode standard exists for a set of extended katakana (Katakana Phonetic Extensions) for transliterating the Ainu language and other languages written with katakana.[19] 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 glyphku used as in アイヌイタㇰ (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[citation needed], 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 Name Ainu usage
31F0 Katakana Letter Small Ku Final k
31F1 Katakana Letter Small Shi Final s [ɕ]
31F2 Katakana Letter Small Su Final s, used to emphasize its pronunciation as [s] rather than [ɕ]. [s] and [ʃ] are allophones 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. アㇵ ah) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F6 Katakana Letter Small Hi Final h [ç], succeeding the vowel i. (e.g. イㇶ ih) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F7 Katakana Letter Small Fu Final h [x], succeeding the vowel u. (e.g. ウㇷ uh) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F8 Katakana Letter Small He Final h [x], succeeding the vowel e. (e.g. エㇸ eh) Sakhalin dialect only.
31F9 Katakana Letter Small Ho Final h [x], succeeding the vowel o. (e.g. オㇹ 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. アㇻ ar)
31FC Katakana Letter Small Ri Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel i. (e.g. イㇼ ir)
31FD Katakana Letter Small Ru Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel u. (e.g. ウㇽ ur)
31FE Katakana Letter Small Re Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel e. (e.g. エㇾ er)
31FF Katakana Letter Small Ro Final r [ɾ], succeeding the vowel o. (e.g. オㇿ or)
Characters represented using combining characters
ㇷ゚ 31F7 + 309A Katakana Letter Small Pu Final p
セ゚ 30BB + 309A Katakana Letter Se With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark ce [tse]
ツ゚ 30C4 + 309A Katakana Letter Tu With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark tu. ツ゚ and ト゚ are interchangeable.
ト゚ 30C8 + 309A Katakana Letter To With Semi-Voiced Sound Mark

Basic syllables[edit]

a ア
i イ
u ウ
e エ
o オ
[k][note 1]
ka カ
ki キ
ku ク
ke ケ
ko コ
-k ㇰ
[s] ~ [ʃ]
sa シャ / サ[note 2]
[sa] ~ [ʃa]
si シ
su シュ / ス[note 2]
[su̜] ~ [ʃu̜]
se シェ / セ[note 2]
[se] ~ [ʃe]
so ショ / ソ[note 2]
[so] ~ [ʃo]
-s ㇱ / ㇲ[note 2]
[t][note 1]
ta タ
ci チ
tu ト゚ / ツ゚[note 2]
te テ
to ト
-t ㇳ / ッ[note 3]
[ts] ~ [tʃ][note 1]
ca チャ
[tsa] ~ [tʃa]
ci チ
cu ツ / チュ[note 2]
[tsu̜] ~ [tʃu̜]
ce セ゚ / チェ[note 2]
[tse] ~ [tʃe]
co チョ
[tso] ~ [tʃo]
na ナ
ni ニ
nu ヌ
ne ネ
no ノ
-n ㇴ / ン[note 4]
[-n, -m-, -ŋ-][note 5]
h[note 6]
ha ハ
hi ヒ
hu フ
he ヘ
ho ホ
-h[note 6]
-ah ㇵ
-ih ㇶ
-uh ㇷ
-eh ㇸ
-oh ㇹ
[p][note 1]
pa パ
pi ピ
pu プ
pe ペ
po ポ
-p ㇷ゚
ma マ
mi ミ
mu ム
me メ
mo モ
-m ㇺ
ya ヤ
yu ユ
ye イェ
yo ヨ
ra ラ
ri リ
ru ル
re レ
ro ロ
-ar ㇻ
-ir ㇼ
-ur ㇽ
-er ㇾ
-or ㇿ
-r ㇽ
wa ワ
wi ウィ / ヰ[note 2]
we ウェ / ヱ[note 2]
wo ウォ / ヲ[note 2]
  1. ^ a b c d k, t, c, p are sometimes voiced [ɡ], [d], [dz] ~ [dʒ], [b], respectively. It does not 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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Either may be 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 = ペㇳ). In the middle of a polysyllabic word, it is a final consonant preceding the initial with a same value (e.g. orta /otta/ = オッタ; オㇿタ is not preferred).[clarification needed]
  4. ^ At the end of a word, n can be written either ㇴ or ン. In the middle of a polysyllabic word, it is ン. (e.g. tan-mosir = タンモシㇼ = タㇴ+モシㇼ, but not タㇴモシㇼ.)
  5. ^ [m] before [p], [ŋ] before [k], [n] elsewhere. Unlike Japanese, it does not become other sounds such as nasal vowels.
  6. ^ a b Initial h [h] and final h [x] are different phonemes. Final h exists in Sakhalin dialect only.


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

Example with initial k:

[kaɪ] [ku̜ɪ] [koɪ] [kaʊ] [kiʊ] [keʊ] [koʊ] [keɪ]
kay kuy koy kaw kiw kew kow 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 [u̜ɪ] [ku̜ɪ] [su̜ɪ] [teɪ] [toʊ] [ɸu̜ɪ]
Japanese [wi] [kʷi] [si] [ti] [tu͍] [ɸi]

Long vowels[edit]

There are long vowels in the Sakhalin dialect. Either a circumflex or macron is used in the Latin alphabet, and the long vowel sign (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[edit]

The Ainu have a rich oral tradition of hero-sagas called yukar, which retain a number of grammatical and lexical archaisms. Yukar was memorized and told at get-togethers and ceremonies that often lasted hours or even days. The Ainu also have another form of narrative often used called "Uepeker", which was used in the same contexts.


Shibatani (1990:9) and Piłsudski (1998:2) speak of "Ainu languages" when comparing the varieties of Hokkaidō and Sakhalin. However, Vovin (1993) speaks only of "dialects". Refsing (1986) says Hokkaidō and Sakhalin Ainu were not mutually intelligible. Hattori (1964) considered Ainu data from 19 regions of Hokkaido and Sakhalin, and found the primary division to lie between the two islands.

  • Data on Kuril Ainu is scarce, but it is thought to have been as divergent as Sakhalin and Hokkaidō.
  • In Sakhalin Ainu, an eastern coastal dialect of Taraika (near modern Gastello (Poronaysk)) was quite divergent from the other localities. The Raychishka dialect, on the western coast near modern Uglegorsk, is the best documented, and has a dedicated grammatical description. Take Asai, the last speaker of Sakhalin Ainu, died in 1994.[20] The Sakhalin Ainu dialects had long vowels and a final -h phoneme, which they pronounced as /x/.
  • Hokkaidō Ainu clustered into several dialects with substantial differences between them: the 'neck' of the island (Oshima County, data from Oshamambe and Yakumo); the "Classical" Ainu of central Hokkaidō around Sapporo and the southern coast (Iburi and Hidaka counties, data from Horobetsu, Biratori, Nukkibetsu, and Niikappu; historical records from Ishikari County and Sapporo show that these were similar); Samani (on the southeastern cape in Hidaka, but perhaps closest to the northeastern dialect); the northeast (data from Obihiro, Kushiro, and Bihoro); the north-central dialect (Kamikawa County, data from Asahikawa and Nayoro); and Sōya (on the northwestern cape), which was closest of all Hokkaidō varieties to Sakhalin Ainu. Most texts and grammatical descriptions we have of Ainu cover the Central Hokkaidō dialect.

Scanty data from Western voyages at the turn of the 19th–20th century (Tamura 2000) suggest there was also great diversity in northern Sakhalin, which was not sampled by Hattori.

Ainu on mainland Japan[edit]

It is often reported that Ainu was the language of the indigenous Emishi people of the northern part of the main Japanese island of Honshu.[21] The main evidence for this is the presence of placenames that appear to be of Ainu origin in both locations. For example, the -betsu common to many northern Japanese place names is known to derive from the Ainu word pet "river" in Hokkaidō, and the same is suspected of similar names ending in -be in northern Honshū and Chūbu, such as the Kurobe and Oyabe rivers in Toyama Prefecture (Miller 1967:239, Shibatani 1990:3, Vovien 2008). Other place names in Kantō and Chūbu, such as Mount Ashigara (Kanagawa–Shizuoka), Musashi (modern Tokyo), Keta Shrine (Toyama), and the Noto Peninsula, have no explanation in Japanese, but do in Ainu. The traditional Matagi hunters of the mountain forests of Tōhoku retain Ainu words in their hunting vocabulary.[22][23]

Under pressure from the Japanese conquest, some Emishi migrated north to Tohoku and Hokkaido. The historical Ainu of (southern) Hokkaido appear to be a fusion of this culture, known archeologically as Satsumon, and the very different Nivkh- and Itelmen-like Okhotsk culture of (northern) Hokkaido, with Satsumon being dominant.[24] The Ainu of Sakhalin and the Kurils appear to have been a relatively recent expansion from Hokkaido, displacing the indigenous Okhotsk culture (in the case of Sakhalin, Ainu oral history records their displacement of an indigenous people they called the Tonchi who, based on toponymic evidence, were evidently the Nivkh),[25] and indeed a mixed Kamchadal–Kuril Ainu population is attested from southern Kamchatka.


Many of the speakers of Ainu lost the language with the advent of Japanese colonization. During a time when food production methods were changing across Japan, there was less reason to trade with the Ainu, who mainly fished and foraged the land. Japan was becoming more industrialized and globalization created a threat to Japanese land. The Japanese government, in an attempt to unify their country to keep out invasion, created policy for the assimilation of the Ainu diversity, culture, and subsistence.[26][27][28] The assimilation included exploitation of land, commodification of culture, and placing Ainu children in schools where they only learned Japanese.[26][27][28]

More recently, the Japanese government has acknowledged the Ainu people as an indigenous population. As of 1997 they were given indigenous rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) to their culture, heritage, and language.[26][27][29]

The Ainu Cultural Promotion Act in 1997 appointed the Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture (FRPAC).[29] This foundation is tasked with language education, where they promote Ainu language learning through training instructors, advanced language classes, and creation and development of language materials.[29]


Vovin (1993) splits Ainu dialects as follows (Vovin 1993:157).

External relationships[edit]

No genealogical relationship between Ainu and any other language family has been demonstrated, despite numerous attempts. Thus, it is a language isolate. Ainu is sometimes grouped with the Paleosiberian languages, but this is only a geographic blanket term for several unrelated language families that were present in Siberia before the advances of Turkic and Tungusic languages there. Another suggestion is that Nihali and Kusunda are remnants of a northern division, that once extended to Japan. The most frequent proposals for relatives of Ainu are given below.

Alexander Vovin (2016)[30] notes that Ainu has had early contact with the unrelated Nivkh language, and that this contact had most likely happened on Hokkaido island. Today, Nivkh is spoken only on Sakhalin island and at the mouth of the Amur River. Ainu of Sakhalin has more recent influence from Nivkh that Ainu of Hokkaido does not have.


John C. Street (1962) proposed linking Ainu, Korean, and Japanese in one family and Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic in another, with the two families linked in a common "North Asiatic" family. Street's grouping was an extension of the Altaic hypothesis, which at the time linked Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungusic, sometimes adding Korean; today Altaic sometimes includes Korean and rarely Japanese but not Ainu (Georg et al. 1999).

From a perspective more centered on Ainu, James Patrie (1982) adopted the same grouping, namely Ainu–Korean–Japanese and Turkic–Mongolic–Tungusic, with these two families linked in a common family, as in Street's "North Asiatic".

Joseph Greenberg (2000–2002) likewise classified Ainu with Korean and Japanese. He regarded "Korean–Japanese-Ainu" as forming a branch of his proposed Eurasiatic language family. Greenberg did not hold Korean–Japanese–Ainu to have an especially close relationship with Turkic–Mongolic–Tungusic within this family.

The theory is now seen as discredited.[31][32][33][34]

Japonic, Austroasiatic and Austronesian[edit]

Shafer (1965) presented evidence suggesting a distant connection with the Austroasiatic languages, which include many of the indigenous languages of Southeast Asia. Vovin (1992) presented his reconstruction of Proto-Ainu with evidence, in the form of proposed sound changes and cognates, of a relationship with Austroasiatic. In Vovin (1993), he still regarded this hypothesis as preliminary.

The eminent Japanese linguist Shichirō Murayama tried to link Japanese to the Austronesian languages, which include the languages of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Indonesia, through both vocabulary and cultural comparisons.[35]

A 2015 analysis using the Automated Similarity Judgment Program resulted in the Japonic languages being grouped with the Ainu and then with the Austroasiatic languages.[36]

Language contact[edit]

The Ainu appear to have experienced intensive contact with the Nivkhs during the course of their history. It is not known to what extent this has affected the language. Linguists believe the vocabulary shared between Ainu and Nivkh (historically spoken in the northern half of Sakhalin and on the Asian mainland facing it) is due to borrowing.

The other group of people with whom the Ainu came into extensive contact was Japanese people since the 14th century. Analytic grammatical constructions acquired or transformed in Ainu were probably due to contact with the Japanese and the Japonic languages that had heavy influence on the Ainu language with a large number of loanwords borrowed into the Ainu language and to a smaller extent vice versa.[37] There are also a great number of loanwords from the Japanese language in various stages of its development to Hokkaidō Ainu, and a smaller number of loanwords from Ainu into Japanese, particularly animal names such as rakko "sea otter" (Ainu rakko), tonakai "reindeer" (Ainu tunakkay), and shishamo (a fish, Spirinchus lanceolatus) (Ainu susam). Due to the low status of Ainu in Japan, many ancient loanwords may be ignored or undetected, but there is evidence of an older substrate, where older Japanese words which have no clear etymology appear related to Ainu words which do. An example is modern Japanese sake or shake meaning “salmon”, probably from Ainu sak ipe or shak embe for "salmon", literally "summer food".


  • Bronisław Piłsudski (1998). Alfred F. Majewicz, ed. The Aborigines of Sakhalin. The Collected Works of Bronisław Piłsudski. I. Berlin-New York: Walter de Gruyter. p. 792. ISBN 978-3-11-010928-3.
  • Hattori, Shirō, ed. (1964). Bunrui Ainugo hōgen jiten [An Ainu dialect dictionary with Ainu, Japanese, and English indexes]. Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten.
  • Miller, Roy Andrew (1967). The Japanese Language. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.
  • Murasaki, Kyōko (1977). Karafuto Ainugo: Sakhalin Rayciska Ainu Dialect—Texts and Glossary. Tokyo: Kokushokankōkai.
  • Murasaki, Kyōko (1978). Karafuto Ainugo: Sakhalin Rayciska Ainu Dialect—Grammar. Tokyo: Kokushokankōkai.
  • Refsing, Kirsten (1986). The Ainu Language: The Morphology and Syntax of the Shizunai Dialect. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. ISBN 978-87-7288-020-4.
  • Shibatani, Masayoshi (1990). The Languages of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-36918-3.
  • Tamura, Suzuko (2000). The Ainu Language. Tokyo: Sanseido. ISBN 978-4-385-35976-2.
  • Vovin, Alexander (1992). "The origins of the Ainu language" (PDF). The Third International Symposium on Language and Linguistics: 672–686.
  • Vovin, Alexander (1993). A Reconstruction of Proto-Ainu. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-09905-0.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2008). "Man'yōshū to Fudoki ni Mirareru Fushigina Kotoba to Jōdai Nihon Retto ni Okeru Ainugo no Bunpu" [Strange Words in the Man'yoshū and the Fudoki and the Distribution of the Ainu Language in the Japanese Islands in Prehistory] (PDF). Kokusai Nihon Bunka Kenkyū Sentā.
Proposed classifications
  • Bengtson, John D. (2006). "A multilateral look at Greater Austric". Mother Tongue. 11: 219–258.
  • Georg, Stefan; Michalove, Peter A.; Ramer, Alexis Manaster; Sidwell, Paul J. (1999). "Telling general linguists about Altaic". Journal of Linguistics. 35: 65–98. doi:10.1017/s0022226798007312.
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (2000–2002). Indo-European and Its Closest Relatives. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-3812-5.
  • Patrie, James (1982). The Genetic Relationship of the Ainu Language. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii. ISBN 978-0-8248-0724-5.
  • Shafer, R. (1965). "Studies in Austroasian II". Studia Orientalia. 30 (5).
  • Street, John C. (1962). "Review of N. Poppe, Vergleichende Grammatik der altaischen Sprachen, Teil I (1960)". Language. 38 (1): 92–98. doi:10.2307/411195. JSTOR 411195.

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Martin, K. (2011). Aynu itak. On the Road to Ainu Language Revitalization. Media and Communication Studies. 60: 57-93
  6. ^ Lam, May-Ying (27 July 2017). "Perspective | 'Land of the Human Beings': The world of the Ainu, little-known indigenous people of Japan". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  7. ^ Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  8. ^ a b c d Gayman, J. (2012). Ainu Right to Education and Ainu Practice of “Education “: Current Situation and imminent Issues in Light of Indigenous Education Rights and Theory. Intercultural Education. Vol. 22.
  9. ^ a b c Okazaki, T & Teeter, J. (2011). Ainu as a Heritage Language of Japan: History, Current State and Future of Ainu Language Policy and Education. Heritage Language Journal. 8 (2)
  10. ^ Hanks,H, D (2017). Policy Barriers to Ainu Language Revitalization in Japan: When Globalization Means English. Working Papers in Educational Linguistics 32(1): pp. 91-110.
  11. ^ a b Vanishing Languages of the Pacific Rim. Oxford, GB: OUP Oxford. 2007-01-01. pp. 377–382. ISBN 9780191532894.
  12. ^ Hansen, A.S. (2014). "Re-vitalizing an indigenous language: Dictionaries of Ainu languages in Japan, 1625-2013". Lexicographica. 30 (1): 547–578.
  13. ^ Bugaeva, Anna (2010). "Internet applications for endangered languages: A talking dictionary of Ainu". Waseda Institute for Advanced Study Research Bulletin 3: 73–81.
  14. ^ a b "Ainu". Retrieved 2012-07-29.
  15. ^ Frédéric, Louis (2005). "Ainu". Japan encyclopedia. Käthe Roth, translator (illustrated, reprint ed.). Harvard University Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5.
  16. ^ Ivar Lissner (1957). The living past (4 ed.). Putnam's. p. 204. Retrieved 23 April 2012. In 1877 a young and industrious theologian went to visit the Ainu. His name was John Batchelor, and he was a scientist and missionary. He got to know the Ainu well, studied their language and customs, won their affection, and remained their staunch friend until the end of his days. It is to Batchelor that we owe our deepest insight into the[Original from the University of California Digitized Jan 27, 2009 Length 444 pages]
  17. ^ John Patric (1943). ...Why Japan was strong (4 ed.). Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc. p. 72. Retrieved 23 April 2012. John Batchelor set about to learn the Ainu language, which the Japanese had not troubled ever to learn. He laboriously compiled an Ainu dictionary. He singlehandedly turned this hitherto but spoken tongue into a written language, and himself wrote books in it.[Original from the University of California Digitized Oct 16, 2007 Length 313 pages]
  18. ^
  19. ^ See this page at and this section of the Unicode specification.
  20. ^ Piłsudski, Bronisław; Alfred F. Majewicz (2004). The Collected Works of Bronisław Piłsudski. Trends in Linguistics Series. 3. Walter de Gruyter. p. 600. ISBN 9783110176148. Retrieved 2012-05-22.
  21. ^ Or perhaps one of the peoples called Emishi; it is not known that the Emishi were a single ethnicity.
  22. ^ Kudō Masaki (1989:134). Jōsaku to emishi. Kōkogaku Library #51. New Science Press.
  23. ^ Tanigawa, Ken'ichi (1980:324–325). Collected works, vol. 1.
  24. ^ Hudson Ruins of identity: ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands
  25. ^ Gruzdeva, "The linguistics situation on Sakhalin Island". in Wurm et al. (1996:1008) Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas
  26. ^ a b c Cheung, S.C.H. (2003). "Ainu Culture in Transition". Futures. 35 (9): 951–959. doi:10.1016/s0016-3287(03)00051-x.
  27. ^ a b c Maruyama, Hiroshi (2014-07-03). "Japan's Policies Towards the Ainu Language and Culture with Special Reference to North Fennoscandian Sami Policies". Acta Borealia. 31 (2): 152–175. doi:10.1080/08003831.2014.967980. ISSN 0800-3831.
  28. ^ a b "HLJ". Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  29. ^ a b c Savage, Theresa; Longo, Michael (2013-05-01). "Legal Frameworks for the Protection of Ainu Language and Culture in Japan: International and European Perspectives". Japanese Studies. 33 (1): 101–120. doi:10.1080/10371397.2013.782098. ISSN 1037-1397.
  30. ^ Vovin, Alexander. 2016. "On the Linguistic Prehistory of Hokkaidō." In Crosslinguistics and linguistic crossings in Northeast Asia: papers on the languages of Sakhalin and adjacent regions (Studia Orientalia 117).
  31. ^ "While 'Altaic' is repeated in encyclopedias and handbooks most specialists in these languages no longer believe that the three traditional supposed Altaic groups, Turkic, Mongolian and Tungusic, are related." Lyle Campbell & Mauricio J. Mixco, A Glossary of Historical Linguistics (2007, University of Utah Press), pg. 7.
  32. ^ "When cognates proved not to be valid, Altaic was abandoned, and the received view now is that Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic are unrelated." Johanna Nichols, Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time (1992, Chicago), pg. 4.
  33. ^ "Careful examination indicates that the established families, Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungusic, form a linguistic area (called Altaic)...Sufficient criteria have not been given that would justify talking of a genetic relationship here." R.M.W. Dixon, The Rise and Fall of Languages (1997, Cambridge), pg. 32.
  34. ^ "...[T]his selection of features does not provide good evidence for common descent" and "we can observe convergence rather than divergence between Turkic and Mongolic languages--a pattern than is easily explainable by borrowing and diffusion rather than common descent", Asya Pereltsvaig, Languages of the World, An Introduction (2012, Cambridge) has a good discussion of the Altaic hypothesis (pp. 211-216).
  35. ^ Shichirō, Murayama (1976). "The Malayo-Polynesian component in the Japanese language". Journal of Japanese Studies. 2 (2): 413–436. doi:10.2307/132060. JSTOR 132060.
  36. ^ Gerhard Jäger, "Support for linguistic macrofamilies from weighted sequence alignment." PNAS vol. 112 no. 41, 12752–12757, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500331112. Published online before print September 24, 2015.
  37. ^ The Languages of Japan and Korea, edited by Nicolas Tranter


  • Bugaeva, Anna (2010). "Internet applications for endangered languages: A talking dictionary of Ainu". Waseda Institute for Advanced Study Research Bulletin. 3: 73–81.
  • Lewis, M. Paul; Gary F. Simons; Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2015). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (18th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  • Refsing, Kirsten (1986). The Ainu Language: The Morphology and Syntax of the Shizunai Dialect. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press. ISBN 978-87-7288-020-4.
  • Refsing, Kirsten (1996). Early European Writings on the Ainu Language. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-7007-0400-2.
  • Shibatani, Masayoshi (1990). The Languages of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-36918-3.
  • Tamura, Suzuko (2000). The Ainu Language. Tokyo: Sanseido. ISBN 978-4-385-35976-2.

Further reading[edit]

  • John Batchelor (1905). An Ainu-English-Japanese Dictionary, including A Grammar of the Ainu Language (2, reprint ed.). Tokyo: Methodist Publishing House; London, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. p. 525. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Digitized by the University of Michigan December 8, 2006)
  • Basil Hall Chamberlain; John Batchelor (1887). Ainu grammar. Tokyo: Imperial University. p. 174. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Digitized by Harvard University November 30, 2007)
  • John Batchelor (1897). 聖書・新約: アイヌ. Yokohama Bunsha. p. 706. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Harvard University) (Digitized October 8, 2008)
  • John Batchelor (1896). 聖書・新約: アイヌ. Yokohama Bunsha. p. 313. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Harvard University) (Digitized October 8, 2008 )
  • British and Foreign Bible Society (1891). St Mark, St Luke and St John in Ainu. London: British and Foreign Bible Society. p. 348. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Harvard University) (Digitized June 9, 2008)
  • Kyōsuke Kindaichi (1936). アイヌ語法概說. 岩波書店. p. 230. Retrieved March 1, 2012. (Compiled by Mashiho Chiri) (University of Michigan) (Digitized August 15, 2006)
  • Miyake, Marc. 2010. Is the itak an isolate?

External links[edit]