The Ainu are an indigenous people living in Japan. Originally living in the whole Hokkaidō, Sakhalin island, Kuril islands and possibly Kamchatka, the Ainu people is today mostly concentrated in Hokkaidō, but large diaspora groups are also present outside of the island, for example in Tokyo. The history of Ainu people has been turbulent and harsh. Ainu have suffered from oppression and prevarication and sadly still today prejudice seems sometimes difficult to eradicate.
Within Japan, but also abroad, Ainu are often depicted as an enigmatic people and, in general, information about them is inaccurate or skewed by misconception – one such example is the erroneous idea that the Ainu language is dead.
In 2008 Ainu won recognition as indigenous people of Japan, which both was caused by and also helped the rise of a renewed consciousness of Ainu identity and traditions. Today there is a rather large Ainu community living mostly in Hokkaidō, whose effort to revitalize and preserve the rich Ainu cultural heritage is most important. It is thanks to this resilient community that the Ainu language is not dead today, although undeniably still in an endangered state. There are three varieties of Ainu: Hokkaidō, Sakhalin, and Kuril.
In this ten week course, you will be learning how to speak Saru Ainu (Hokkaidō variety), which is one of the most widely studied dialects. At the same time, you will also gain knowledge about the Sakhalin variety.
In this week you will get acquainted with the alphabet used for Ainu and with the sounds of the language. You will also learn how to introduce yourself and how to greet people.
- Listening and reading
- The Ainu alphabet
- Consonants and vowels
- Write what you hear
- Choose the right answer
- Consonant combinations
- What’s the pronounciation?
- Stress: rules and irregularities
- Write what you hear
- Select the right answer
- Listening and reading
- Introducing yourself in Ainu
- Insert the right word
In this week you will learn the basic structure of the language, so to understand how Ainu works and how to build simple sentences. You will learn more about verbs and how to distinguish subjects and objects.
In this week you will learn how to use the verb kore ‘to give’, that is useful to offer something to others or to ask for something for yourself. You will also learn more about the Ainu verb and how to use personal forms on it, and finally how to count up to 20.
In this week you will learn how to count objects and people and how to refer to things and concepts by using words like ‘this’ and ‘that’. You will also learn more about plural verbs and negative verbs, plus you will get acquainted with the Ainu fourth person and see how the language has faced the issue of traditionally not having words to describe many of the objects used in contemporary everyday life.
In this week you will learn how to ask questions both in an informal and in a polite way. You will also see how to express events that happened in the past, and take a look at the Ainu family, learning about kinship terms and traditional family relations.
In this week you will learn how to talk about the weather. You will learn how to speak of events that have yet to happen and how to make polite requests. Also, you will see the many ways Ainu has to express location of objects and people, and the passing of time. Following from this, you will see how Ainus count the days and the months and the traditional names given to them.
- Reading and listening
- Future and polite request
- Complete verbs
- The assertive particle humi
- Space and location 1
- Space and location 2
- Describe the picture
- What’s missing?
- Location, persons, and time
- Listening comprehension
- With whom?
- The passing of time in the Ainu culture
In this week you will learn how to make negative statements by using the word somo ‘not’. You will learn more about plural verbs and how to speak about your own experiences. Using different conjunctions, you will also be able to connect and describe separate events logically and thus form longer and more complete sentences.
In this week you will learn how to describe things and people by using adjectives. Moreover, you will be able to make comparisons among separate objects and people based on the qualities they possess. You will learn also about how Ainus culturally perceive colors.
This week is dedicated to a review of four main topics you studied in the past lessons. We will look again at different types of verbs and personal forms, spatial and temporal expressions, conjunctions, and numbers. At the same time I will give you some additional information about these categories.