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Environmental Studies

Ainu

 

 Ainu Language- one or two speakers left.

 Ainu Used to be spoken in three different kinds of dialects including Karafuto, Chisima and Hokkaido dialects. However, nowadays, only Hokkaido dialect exists in Hokkaido which is an island located at northern Japan. It is said that only one or two speakers left and both of them are elderly. It means that the language is nearly extinct.

 

The reason why Ainu speakers descended.

This is because of historical background in Japan. In Hokkaido, Ainu tribe was a native.  In Meiji era, some Japanese started emigrating from Honshu to Hokkaido to trade. However, as time goes by, Japanese people stated cheating on the trade so that Japanese merchant can get profit more. Because of this, there has been wars between Ainu and Japanese. Eventually, Japanese won the war against of Ainu tribe. At this time, Japanese government made a policy, which mandates Ainu to learn Japanese language, culture and forbid to use Ainu language. This is how Ainu speakers decreased tremendously.  

 

Ainu Language  (character)

If you have ever had taken Japanese course, you might noticed already. The characters shown above are quite similar with Japanese character called Hiragana. It is very interesting that Ainu people knew how to speak and listen their own language, but they did not know how to write their own characters.Through the period when Japanese and Ainu were trading, Ainu people learned Japanese character and changed it a little bit.

 

The name of the places in Hokkaido

Some name of the places in Hokkaido come from Ainu language. For instance, Kamui Kotan is Ainu language. It means ” The place where god lives in”. Usually, the places are named relating to what kind of resources are available, such as water,wood and food.

How can we preserve the language?

Is there any way to preserve the language? Unfortunately, I cannot be positive about possibility of preservinf the language. There is one or two speakers left for the language and it is said that there are approximately 10 Ainu speakers left. However, those speakers speak Ainu as second language. To preserve language, we have to be able to teach people how to speak, write, listen and read the language. It is very hard to preserve the language.

Cheak more about Ainu!

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/indepth/scenic/hokkaido/index_05.html

http://www.waseda.jp/wias/eng/