Aynu Page
(Ainu Page)

Aynu Page in Korean(韓国語)

tommy ekasi at siraoi kotan
 Ayno-Japanese dic

Chiri Yukie,Silvery Drops

Chiri Yukie,Towa Towa To

Aynu Fable(English)

Aynu Fable (Korean)


As a Japanese national, I have been concerned with peoples around us, Koreans and Chinese. But I have to add the very peoples inside Japan, the Aynu People and the Ryukyu People. Anthropologists say they are classified as the Jomon people who had moved from the southern area of Asia into the Japan islands some thousands of years earlier than the Yayoi People who moved from the northern Asia through Korean Peninsula.

Anthropologists say the present Japanese are the mixed people of those two types, the Jomon and the Yayoi. The ratio of mixed blood differ depending on the areas we live. The average ratio of the Jomon and the Yayoi for the modern Japanese is 2 : 8. The west area of Japan like Kansai Area finds more of the Yayoi properties while the east side of Japan like Tohoku Area sees more of the Jomon characteristics. And the Aynu and the Ryukyu show 100 percent of the Jomon properties. What do those facts mean?

Once when I was a little kid some 40 years ago, my sister Kazuyo, six years older than I, used to say the Aynu were a White People. And I believed that because their faces were totally different from ours. They were bearded with thick wavy hair, which led European scholars to believe that the Aynu were a Caucasian people (Smithonian Institution 1997). Some people still believe in this childish idea.
But what really interests me now is their language, the Aynu language. Obviously it belongs to the Jomon language, which you cannot hear any more, may live in Aynu and in Japanese, though the modern Japanese syntax has been said to apply to those of the Altaic. From now I would like to keep you visitors to my page informed of the Aynu People and their culture. --- tommy.

Tommy reported the following on the 4th International Conference on Computer Processing for KOREAN Language(ICCKL '99) held in Yanbian China by answering the four questions from Professor Kim Kwang Ok at Suwon University.
以下の文章は、今年(99年)8月12日、中国・Yanbian市で開かれた「第4回 コリアンコンピュータ処理国際学術会議」に於いて、水原大学のキム・クァンオク教授の4つの質問に対し、私(富田 隆)が電話で答えたアイヌ民族とその言語に関する講演原稿(英語)です。

English original Translated into Japanese
Question 1
The Present Situation of the Ainu People

1-1 Ainu population

24,381 in Hokkaido and 514 in Tokyo. (Figures are the result of a 1986 cooperative survey.)

The Obvious existence of discriminatory and prejudicial attitude toward the Ainu in Japanese society prevented obtaining an exact number for their population. The numbers obtained by the Ainu people who took part in this survey in 1986 are 24,381 in Hokkaido and 514 in Tokyo. Estimates of the Tokyo Ainu population run as high as 2700.

1-2 Ainu Language

1-2-1 Current Use

The Ainu language expresses the rich heritage of "Yukar ," an oral tradition literature. Yukar incorporates many stories told in verses, and deserves to be listed among the world's great literature heritages. The Ainu language is supposed to have been spoken in Tohoku, Hokkaido, Southern Karafuto (Sakhalin), Chishima islands , or southern tips of Kamchatka Peninsula.
But as of 1979, there were as few as nine Ainu who could speak the language fluently. Native speakers were confined to older Ainu living in Hokkaido. As of 1999, the Ainu language should be considered to have become extinct with regard to everyday conversational use.

But recently, along with the campaign for establishing Ainu New Law, the campaign for the restoration of the Ainu People and their language is being earnestly promoted in Tokyo and Osaka as well as in many places in Hokkaido. A unified textbook of the Ainu language has been issued and some nice dictionaries designed for beginners are on the market now.

1-2-2 Phonology and Tone

There are five vowels: i, e, a, o, and u .

There are 12 consonants: p, t, k, c, s, m, n, r, h, '( glottal stop), w, and y.

The syllable structure of Hokkaido dialects is of two kinds: CV and CVC; while that of Karafuto dialect is of three kinds, with the option of CVV, where VV is a long vowel, such as "ii" or "aa" or "ee."  ( C=consonant V=vowel )

Syllable-final consonants p, t, and k remain articulated, but become silent and unaspirated, which frequently happen in Korean. However, in the Karafuto dialect syllable final p, t, and k become h.

In Hokkaido dialects, except for dialects such as the Miboro or Samani dialects, some words are distinguished by difference in tone: high or low ; while in the Karafuto dialect, the difference in vowel length - long or short - marks the same distinction, in keeping with the old style of the Ainu language.

The Ainu language has an oral tradition. When reading verses, a special style is used that is different from that of the spoken language ( conversational style.) The use of the more complicated form is characteristic of the oral literature style of verse.

1-2-3 Syntax

The Ainu language is an agglutinative language - one whose syntax features the placing of affixes or particles onto individual words.

As for the word order, the subject and object come before the predicate verb, and particles follow the subject and object as suffixes. as in Japanese. Modifiers appear before the words they modify. However, unlike Japanese, a negatived affix is placed just ahead of the verb. (This happens in Korean language, though it can choose either way to put negatives into a sentence.)

1-3 Ainu Culture and Life

1-3-1 Campaign for Ainu Restoration

As a result of the assimilation policy established in the Meiji Era (1868-1912) by the Japanese government , the original Ainu culture is not visible in daily life basis.

But with the tenacious campaign by both the Ainu People with Kayano Shigeru, former Councilor of the Japanese Diet, as their leader, and the general Japanese nationals who support the Ainu restoration, a new legislation generally known as the Ainu New Law was established in 1997. The new law acknowledges the Ainus as predecessors in the Japanese islands.

Also, a wide variety of Japanese nationals campaign for succession of the Ainu culture from generation to generation by holding Ainu cultural festivals in many places in Japan, for instance.

1-3-2 Tradition of Daily Life

Original Ainu life is based upon hunting and fishery. In the famous "Iomante Fesitival," the Ainu send the spirit of the bear to the world of thier gods, reflecting their animism.

Depending upon their geographical environment and seasons, the Ainu caught salmon deer or sea life, and ate these supplemented by wild grass and mushrooms. They built their houses from wood and grass, and made their clothing from bark or animal fur. Thus they were able to be self-sufficient in most of their daily necessities.


1-1 アイヌ人口

北海道 24,381 東京 514。

日本社会でのアイヌ人に対する差別と偏見の明白な存在が、この民族の正確な人口把握の妨げになっている。 1986年の調査に応じたアイヌ人の数は、北海道で24,381人、東京で514人である。 しかし、東京でのアイヌ人口はおよそ2700人に達する。

1-2 アイヌ語

1-2-1 使用状態

この言語は「ユーカラ」という口承文学の豊かな遺産を受けるに値する。世界文学遺産の中にリストアップされるべき多くの韻文の物語が、この言語にはある。アイヌ語は東北、北海道、樺太 (サハリン)南部、 千島列島、あるいは カムチャツカ半島南端で話されていたと思われる。

しかし、現在、流ちょうにこの言語を操れるアイヌ人の数については、我々は1979の時点でわずか9人の人々を数えられたに留まる。 アイヌ語を母語として話せるのは、北海道に住む古老のアイヌ人に限られる。 そして、ついに1999年現在では、日常会話の使い手は絶滅したと考えるべきである。


1-2-2 音韻について

母音は i、e、 a、 o、 u の 5個である。

子音は、p、t、k、c、s、m、n、r、h、 '(喉頭音)、w、y.を含めて12個である。

北海道方言の音節構造はCVと CVC の2種類。一方、 樺太方言のものは CVV が余計に付いて3種類となる。ただし、Vは同じVとなる。( Cは子音 Vは母音 )

音節末に立つ子音 p、t、k は、唇や舌の運動は伴うが、音の破裂を伴わない内破音となる。 これは韓国語でもよく起こる。(ただし、樺太方言では、これらが全て「h」音に変わる。)

北海道方言では、 美幌、 様似方言以外、単語は高低アクセントの対立で認識されうるが、一方、樺太方言では同じ機能が母音の長短の差によって達成されうる。これは、樺太方言がアイヌ語の古形を保っていることを意味する。

アイヌ語は口承の伝統を持っている。 韻文の朗唱のときには、口語文体(会話体)とは異なる特別な文体を用いる。 より複雑な文体の使用が詩句の口承文学の文体では、特徴となる。

1-2-3  文法

アイヌ語は接辞や助詞を自立語に接合させて文法構造をとる膠着語である。 語順に関しては、日本語同様、主語と目的語は述語動詞に先行し、助詞は後置する。修飾語は被修飾語の前におく。 しかし、否定辞は日本語と異なり、動詞の前に置く。 (これは、韓国語でも行われるが、韓国語では否定を文に入れ込むのにどちらかの方法を選択できる。)

1−3 アイヌ文化と生活

1−3−1 アイヌ復権運動



また、広範な日本国民は、アイヌ人が彼らの独自文化を親から子へ、子から孫へ引き継いでいけるよう、--- 例えは、日本各地でアイヌ文化祭などを開催することで---それを支援するための運動を起こしている。

1−3−2 日常生活の伝統

アイヌ独特で伝統的な生活は、狩猟と漁猟に基づいている。 有名な「 イオマンテ」という祭りは、彼らの神々の世界に熊の霊を送るものである、これは、彼らのアニミズムを反映している。

地理的な環境と季節によって、彼らはサケ、シカ、あるいは海獣を捕え、野生の草あるいはキノコを加えて、これらを食した。 彼らは木と草で家を建て、木の皮や動物の毛皮から彼らの衣装を作った。 かくして、彼らは毎日の必需品大部分、自給自足が可能であった。
Question 2
Details of the Ainu Language

2-1 Dialects of the Ainu Language

The recorded dialects are classified into three major dialects: Hokkaido, Karafuto and Chishima. Hokkaido dialect may then be divided into five regions including Northern (Souya), Eastern (Kushiro, Kitami, Tokachi and Hidaka-East), Middle (Ishikari, Teshio), Southern (Hidaka-West, Tanshin), and finally South-Western (Goshi). Among Karafuto dialects Taraika dialect (East Coast) is said to be remarkable. But a genuine study has not been done yet about classification of dialects in the Ainu language.

2-2 Classic and Modern Ainu Language

The languages in the Ainu epic "Yukar" differ from those of daily life in words and phrases.  Narrators of yukar sit at the fireside and recite the adventure stories of a boy all night, beating the fireside with a stick called "repni. "

2-3 The Origin of the Ainu Language

The origin of the Ainu language is indistinct. The language has been considered to be associated with a wide variety of languages from Indo-European, Altaic, Austronesian as well as Japanese or Korean.

The language has also been considered to be one of the old Asian languages along with Siberian languages or the languages in Karafuto. Written Ainu use no ancient characters, nor does it use an original character system.

Since the 17th century, it has been recorded using Japanese Kana , the Roman alphabet, or Cyrillic characters. Its language structure resembles that of Altaic, except for the existence of prefixes e-, ko-, and o- , and its characteristic as an incorporating language.

Some scholars say the resemblance of Ainu language to Japanese and Korean cannot be considered a coincidence, and that the three languages once had a common ancestral language called "East Asian Old Language."

2-4 Writing System

Presently, the Ainu language is written with the use of Japanese Kana and the Roman alphabet. Its writing system has been considerably unified and its actual pronunciation is consistent with the written documents. (The actual pronunciation of Korea's hangul characters often differs from that of the written document, which annoys foreign students of the Korean language. )

Foreign words are usually written just as is done in Japanese. For example, computer is written as konpyuta. But there is no definite way to express foreign words..


2−1 アイヌ語の諸方言

記録に残る方言は、北海道方言、 樺太方言、 千島方言に三大別できる。 北海道方言はさらに、北部(宗谷)、東部(釧路、北見、十勝、日高東部)、中部(石狩、手塩)、南部(日高西部、胆振)、南西部(後志)の五つに区分される。 樺太方言には、タライカ方言(東海岸)が顕著だといわれる。 ただし、アイヌ語の方言区分についてはまだ本格的な研究がなされていない。

2−2  古典と現代アイヌ語

アイヌ叙事詩「 ユーカラ 」での言葉は、日常生活の言葉とは異なる。 ユーカラの語り手たちは、炉端に座り「レプニ」と呼ばれる棒を炉に叩きながら、一晩中、少年の冒険物語を謡う。

2−3 アイヌ語の起源

不明である。 この言語はインド・ヨーロッパ語族、アルタイ語族、 アウストロネシア語族、そして日本語あるいは韓国語まで多種多様な言語と連関され論じられてきた。

この言語はまた、シベリア諸語の旧アジア諸語の、あるいは樺太の諸言語の一つとして論じられてきた。 アイヌ人は古来文字を使用せず、固有の文字体系を持っていない。

しかし、17世紀以来、日本語のカナや、ラテン文字、キリル文字によって記録されてきた。 言語構造はアルタイ系に類似するが、 e-、 ko - 、o- など接頭辞の存在や抱合語的性格はアルタイ系と馴染まない。



現在、アイヌ語は日本のカナやアルファベットを使って書かれる。 その言語表記法はかなり統一された。その発音は書かれた書類とは違わない。 (韓国語のハングルでは、その真の発音は、書いてあるものとはしばしば異なり、韓国語の外国人学生を大いに悩ませている。)

外国語は、通常、日本語で扱われるのと同様に記述される。  例えば、コンピュータは konpyuta と書かれる。 だが、この点については統一がない。
Question 3
Preservation of the Ainu Language

3-1 The documentary Record

Documentary records of the Ainu language have been collected since the beginning of the 17th century in terms of vocabulary and texts.

3-1-1 Lexicons and Dictionaries


Ezokotoba no koto (1624-44). A lexicon said to be the oldest in Japan

Moshiho-kusa. Alternatively titled Ezo Dialect Moshio-gusa . Contains about 4000 lexical items. (Written in 1792, issued in 1804. Later revised and titled Ezo-goshuu, about 1824.)

Yezogasima Kotoba, Tokunai and Philipp Franz von Siebold.

Classified Ainu Dictionary; Plants (1953), Human (1954), Animals (1963); Chiri Mashiho. Chiri is an Ainu.

Ainu Dialect Dictionary, Hattori Shiro et al (1964).

Kayano Shigeru's Ainu Dictionary (with CD-ROM version), Kayano Shigeru (1996). Kayano is an Ainu.

Ainu Chitose Dialect Dictionary, Nakagawa Hiroshi.

Ainu Saru Dialect Dictionary, Tamura Suzuko.

[Foreign records]

Sakhalin Ainu Vocabulary, Gavriil I. Davydov (1784-1809).

Ainu-Russian Dictionary, Mikhail M. Dobrotvorskii (1876). About 11000 words.

Ainu-English-Japanese Dictionary, fourth edition, John Bachelor (1938).

3-1-2 Grammars.

Study of Ainu Language Structure, August Pfizmaier (Austrian, 1851).

Study of Classical Ainu Yukar, Kindaichi Kyosuke (1931). Kindaichi's pioneering study of the Ainu language.

Summary of Spoken Ainu, Chiri Mashiho and Kindaichi Kyosuke (1936).

Study of Spoken Ainu, Chiri Mashiho (1942).

3-1-3 Other Studies and Works

Collection of the Epic Ainu Yukar, Volumes 1-9. Recorded by an Ainu woman named Kannari Matsu (1959-66). She left 160-odd notebooks in which Yukar was transcribed in Roman letters to her nephew Chiri Mashiho and her scholar friend Kindaichi Kyosuke.

 About Kannari Matsu: She is an Ainu and a Christian preacher. Her Ainu name is Imekano. While working as a preacher, she became the successor to her mother's Yukar epic.

Collections of the Ainu Chants, Chiri Yukie (1923). Yukie was a real niece of Kannari Matsu and a sister of Chiri Mashiho. Later she was adopted by Matsu. She died young at nineteen while working as a proofreader under Kyosuke. This book deserves historical significance as the first genuine record of Ainu chants by an Ainu.

Study of Place Names, Yamada Hidezo (1982).

3-2 Oral Records

There are a considerable number of oral records of the Ainu language, but most of them are rather difficult for most people to obtain. Some are available on the internet or in print.

Ainu Sound Materials, Tamura Suzuko et al, Waseda University.

Collections of Ainu Myth by Kayano Shigeru, Kayano Shigeru, former Diet Councilor.


3−1 文字による記録


3−1−1 語彙集・辞書類



「蝦夷嶋Yezogasima言語 」(徳内とシーボルト共編)







「樺太アイヌ語彙」(ロシア人のダビドフ Gavriil I.Davydov (1784‐1809))

「アイヌ・ロシア語辞典」(1876刊、約1万1000語、ロシア人Mikhail M.Dobrotvorskii(1836‐74)著)


3−1−2 文法書

「アイヌ語の構造に関する研究」(1851刊、オーストリア人 August Pfizmaier著)




3−1−3 他の研究活動、作品

「アイヌ叙事詩ユーカラ集」全9巻(1959‐66、アイヌ女性、金成[かんなり]マツ 筆録)ローマ字で筆録したノート約160冊を甥の知里真志保と金田一京助に残し、京助が訳注を付して出版した。

「アイヌ神謡集」(1923刊、知里幸恵著) 金成マツの実の姪で養女。知里真志保の実姉。金田一京助のもとでこの校正作業をしている際、19歳で夭折した。 この書はアイヌ自身の手による神謡の最初の本格的記録として、歴史的意義が大きい。


3−2 音声による記録


Question 4
Computerizing the Ainu Language.

When written with the Roman alphabet, the Ainu language can be expressed easily using the standard ASCII keyboard. But with Japanese Kana, some characters - for example, Japanese small letters such as "ku" and "pu" - sounded as "k" and "p" in the Ainu language respectively - cannot be expressed in the current JIS code. (JIS = Japan Industrial Standard)

At present the JIS code for Chinese characters, however, is under revision work, and is supposed to include these small Kana for Ainu writing purposes.

Even if new code for the Ainu writing system were added to the JIS standard, a successful writing system would not result unless operating system manufacturers supported its integration into input and output devices and the corresponding word-processing software. It is a pity that there isn't the slightest sign of their efforts, however much expected. Computerizing the Ainu language, therefore, will lag behind.

Unfortunately, it is doubtful that the demand for the Ainu language will be great enough to spur its commercial application.

Written by Tommy (Special assistance by Jerry)


ローマ字表記であれば通常のASCIIコードで処理できるが、カナ表記する場合には、たとえば「ク」や「プ」などのような小さいカナなど表すことがJISコードでは今のところできない ( JIS=日本工業規格)


だが、たとえ、アイヌ語表記のコードが規格に入っても、それらを入出力する手段をOS側で提供し、またワープロソフトで対応しなければ、有効な表記法は得られない。 残念ながら、OS側に期待される努力の影はとんと見えない。従って、アイヌ語のコンピュータ化は遅れるだろう。


翻訳 富田 隆   (協力: 稲垣氏、他

Alexander Akulov April 2, 2002

Urup Island photo by Alex

A Russian scholar of Aynu named Alexander Akulov, who explored the Urup Island, sent to Tommy his view on Ainu language.Here's his report: English proofreading by Jerry (Jerome Kelly).
Basic paleolinguistic methods and their application to Aynu(=Ainu). Restoring the Aynu world view, particularly concepts of space and time.
-----------by Alexander Akulov

1. What Is Paleolinguistics?

The purpose of paleolinguistics is restoration of culture through language. Put simply, paleolinguistics is an explicit methodology which permits understanding of culture through language.

Basic paleolinguistic concepts and methods:

Language very precisely transmits culture through the expression of fundamental cultural constants (Anna Wierzbicka's idea of cultural development);

Language is a way of organizing reality (Jost Trier);

Non-linear perusal of the texts;

The semantic fields are extracted from facts of language (Walter Porzig);

Anthropological and ethnographic literature devoted to the culture under study can be used for interpretation only to the extent that it elucidates meaning of different culture-specific concepts, which is encountered directly in the considered texts. In short, it is both possible and necessary to use assorted literature on the culture under study, but the object of research should be specific texts. If there are two disputable interpretations, the dispute should always be decided for the benefit of that interpretation which has arisen directly from research of the texts, instead of from ethnography and anthropology.

2. Basic Paleolinguistic Method

Suppose we have some texts on some language X, which serves some culture X.

We need to elucidate concepts as understood in the given culture X; for
example, space and time.

For this purpose we have to do the following:

a) We list from the texts everything related to time, and in another list everything related to space;

b) We grade the lexicon in these two lists on semantic fields; number and patterns language X suggests;

c) Statistics (frequency analysis) is useful because it allows us to identify the most relevant cultural constants. But when we have only incidentally selected texts, the meaning and value of this method is lacking. Only as quantity increases can such text be used for statistical purposes, and only as long as we have not considered all texts in general on the language X. The texts can be selected by a random sampling, so the most important keywords for comprehending this culture in all samplings would be encountered just sometimes.

d) In short, a lexicon which is interesting for us is simply structured on semantic fields, and statistics plays the slave role. We are not interested in how many of this or that spatial or temporal markers we encounter in the texts; we are interested in the relationship between number of markers of the given semantic field to the total number of markers identified from these texts.

3. The Aynu World

Applying the above described method to the material presented in "Aynu Folklore" by N.A. Nevski - Aynu folklore narratives collected by Nefu-san on the island of Hokkaido in the first quarter of the 20th century - we come to following conclusions: The world in Aynu language can be classified into eight semantic fields:
1 atuy, rep ( ocean )
2 kim, nupuri ( mountain )
3 cise ( dwelling )
4 kotan ( settlement )
5 mosiri ( island )
6 pet ( river )
7 aynu mosiri ( land of aynu=people)
Toponyms and anthroponyms also must be considered as a part of this semantic field.
8 Kamuy mosiri ( land of kamuy ) has the same structure as the semantic field of Aynu mosiri; furthermore it is possible to distinguish a field of parts of the human body and clothing, and a field of anthroponyms - position or place indicators.

The largest semantic field is that of ocean, for it includes all other semantic fields in such a way as the island is included within the ocean, the settlement on the island, the dwelling in the settlement. Thus the semantic field of ocean is the most highly structured.
Cise, kotan, mosiri are semantic fields that organize the space. They have the same structures, for they all have head (pa) and back (kes) in their scheme.
And river is the mediator between mosiri pa and mosiri kes ( more exactly between atuy and kim).
Kim is a continuous (non-discret) spatial object. And in this connection kim is absolutely opposite to atuy.
Kamuy mosiri is just another island in my understanding,
A lot of toponyms indicate that Aynu space was very concrete.

"Mountain" is not associated with "top", so is not used with the verbs "to climb/to ascend" (rikim), or "to go up" (hopuni, hopumba). The verbs usually used with mountain are "to go" (arapa, paye), or "to leave/to depart" (kuta). At the same time, "sea" and "river" are used in all cases with the verbs "to descend", "to condescend" (san,sap).

Only in one case are they used with the verb "to run out" (osma), which means running or jumping out from some contained or closed space. It is necessary also to mention the very relevant word "hemakasi wa" (homakasi), which means "from the mountains" (for example, wind blowing from the mountains to the sea). However in a literal translation "hemakasi" means "back, to mountains", i.e. from the sea; that is very indicative. Four words for identification of the sea were selected and
allocated: pis, atuy, rep and ruru.

Thus it is possible to state that the primary spatial reference points of Aynu relate to sea and river. Furthurmore, the outcome of applying the paleolinguistic methodology indicates an absence of an organizing center or world/global mass; i.e. the amorphism of spatial pattern in the Aynu world.

At this time I can say that spatial markers can be frequently used as temporal markers. For example, "orowa" - "therefrom" - a marker indicating "in motion from", also translated as "then"; "imakake ta" - "at another party", "only after that"; "hetopo/hetono" - "back", "again"; "oposo" - "to drive through something", "to live"; "ne teksama" - "near", "just now". They are, in our view, most typical cases.

It is necessary also to note the fact that, although V.M. Alpatov writes about the absence in the Aynu language of the category of tense: "The category of tense absent, the same verbal forms can refer to past, present or future" [Alpatov 1997 P.131]; this is not absolutely correct, because within the Aynu language is a rather definite and visible system of the analytical aspect-tense forms formed through using special function words and different auxiliaries. Alpatov doesn't consider this aspect of Aynu itak.


1. Alpatov V.M. Aynu language // Paleoasian languages. Languages of a world. Moscow, 1997.

2. Wierzbicka Anna. Comprehension of cultures via keywords. Moscow, 2001.

3. Nevski Nikolai Alexandrovich. Aynu folklore. Moscow, 1972.

4. Tarlanov Z.K. Methods and principles of the linguistic analysis.
Petrozavodsk, 1995.

5. Batchelor John. An Ainu-English-Japanese Dictionary. Tokyo, 1926.
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amam-taskor [穀物・寒波]
si-kaoyki-re [自分・助ける・させる]
a=ma-p [焼かれた・者]