Translated by Yongdeok Cho (Noir)
This is an English rendition of Kane Kumagai’s Ainu language lessons, based on the lecture texts prepared for the Sapporo TV Radio Lessons in 2006. While I have not modified any of the example sentences, I had to change and edit various parts of the explanatory materials in order to make it useful to the English speakers. In terms of the use of the grammatical terms, I have largely followed the example of Kirsten Refsing’s The Ainu Language: The Morphology and Syntax of the Shizunai Dialect when appropriate.
Ainu ク is a sound that does not exist in Japanese, it is simply final consonant -k instead of normal Japanese Katakana pronunciation of -ku. Ainu allows consonant finals while Japanese does not (with the exception of -n) and a set of Katakana extensions have been created to be used to write Ainu. Although they are now in Unicode, it would require a special font to view the Katakana extension properly and hence I just have used the smaller font size.
Those who are not familiar with the Katakana may just stick to the Roman Ainu. Roman Ainu is fairly phonetic, but note that c (as in "acapo") is pronounced similar to ch as in English "church". But it will be helpful to learn Katakana as well as although both Roman and Katakana are used to write Ainu, Katakana is more common.
Japanese loanwords and proper names may remain in Japanese Kanji even in Ainu when it is written in Katakana.
More examples using Ainu Katakana:
|コシネ||Kosne||To be light|
|イルシカ||Iruska||To be angry|
|ホク||Hok||To buy, purchase|
|タクネ||Takne||To be short|
1) Whale rises
2) Rain falls.
1)フンペ ヤン humpe yan
2)ルヤンペ アシ ruyanpe as
|ル||Ru||To melt. Road.|
タント レラ アシ。
Tanto rera as.
The wind blows today.
Now (it is) cold.
The basic word order of Ainu is Subject-Object-Verb, similar to Japanese. Ainu verbs do not conjugate according to the time tense, and this led to a certain disagreement in the linguistic analysis. While some linguists (Chiri, Shibatani) maintain that the Ainu basic verb form is best translated as past tense, there are the others (Refsing) who disagree with the idea. In most cases the context is sufficient enough to determine whether the tense is past or present, and the specific words are added to clarify the time phrase when it is necessary.
"アシ as" from the last lesson has many meanings. Rain falls, snow falls, wind blows, and in other natural phenomena in general. When it is used to describe an action of a person, it means "to stand." "アシ as" used in the sentence is translated as "to blow", but in Ainu context it is permissible to translate it simply as "to do."
Ainu accents are different from Japanese. Ainu pronounced with Japanese (or any other foreign accent for that matter) would still be understood, but it won’t be natural. Ainu stress often falls on the second syllable.
|ポロ||Poro||To be big, large|
|ヌカル||Nukar||To see, look at|
1) Today is cold.
2) Snow falls a lot this year.
1) タント メアン tanto mean
2) タント ウパシ ポロ tanto upas poro
|タント||Tanto||Today (tan "this" + to "day")|
|メアン||Mean||To be cold|
|ポロ||Poro||To be big, much|
ヌマン ルヤンペ アシ。
Numan ruyanpe as.
Yesterday rain fell.
ウクラン カムイフム アシ。
Ukran kamuyhum as.
Last evening thunder stroke.
Continuing from lesson 2, Ainu verbs do not change their forms in the past tense. Instead, Ainu simply adds temporal adverbs such as ukran, numan when it is necessary to specify when in the past the event occurred.
Ainu Katakana ム is not a full syllable like normal Katakana ム (mu), but only as final consonant -m.
|イサム||Isam||Not to exist, to die|
|リムセ||Rimse||Dance, to dance|
Depending on the region, words like "numan" may be pronounced as "numan" (accent on the first syllable) but "numan" is more natural and widespread.
Also in words like ルヤンペ ruyanpe・ウクラン ukran・カムイフム kamuyhum the first syllables are not accented.
1) Yesterday the wind was strong.
2) Two days ago snow fell.
1) ヌマン レラ ルイ numan rera ruy
2) ホシカヌマン ウパシ アシ hoskanuman upas as
|ルイ||Ruy||To be strong|
|ホシカヌマン||Hoskanuman||Two days ago|
|アシ||As||(rain, snow) falls, (wind) blows, (something) rings/sounds, (something) is heard.|
|ウクラン||Ukran||Last evening, last night.|
|カムイフム||Kamuyhum||Thunder. (kamuy "bear, god" + hum "sound")|
|ルヤンペ||Ruyanpe||Rain. (apt in some dialects)|
ヘカチ イタンキ エヤプキリ。
Hekaci itaki eyapkir.
Boy throws a dish.
ウナルペ スマ オテルケ。
Unarpe suma oterke.
Aunt steps on a stone.
Basic Ainu word order is Subject + Object + Verb. Unlike Japanese, Ainu does not use the case particles to mark the subject or the object of the sentence. (But it uses particles for other things.) "The dog bites the man" and "the man bites the dog" differ in the word order in English, and it is also the case in Ainu.
Small プ is pronounced as -p. (Unlike full Katakana プ, pu)
Small リ is pronounced as -ri but much softer than usual Japanese ri. One may drop -i sound as well.
Small ル is pronounced as –r as well.
This is largely a spelling convention, and one may see リ, ラ, ロ, レ and ル used interchangeably. Kar "to make" may be either カル or カラ, ermun "mouse" エルムン or エレムン, and korkoni "butterbur" コルコニ or コロコニ. How one may choose to spell something is largely the choice of the writer. Roman Ainu remains the same.
1) Uncle buys drink.
2) Dog eats bone.
1) アチャポ トノト ホク acapo tonoto hok.
2) シタ ポネ エ sita pone e
|ホク||Hok||To buy, purchase|
|アチャポ||Acapo||Uncle, middle-aged man|
|ウナルペ||Unarpe||Aunt, middle-aged woman|
|オテルケ||Oterke||To step on|
My head hurts. (I have a headache.)
My leg is long.
There are two ways of saying possession in Ainu, and we introduce the first one in this lesson. It depends on whether the item is considered to be inalienable from the possessor (such as body parts) or alienable (most other things). The inalienable possessions are expressed by using the pronominal prefixes, first of which is ku. Ku is the first person singular pronominal prefix.
アルカ arka, "to hurt" may be pronounced and written as アラカ araka as well. And note that クチキリ ku=cikir is pronounced as one word, don't break between ku and cikiri. The use of equal sign (=) in Roman Ainu is to make the morphology more easily understood, and some writers do not use this sign at all.
And pay attention to the accent. The stress falls on the second syllable.
1) My leg hurts.
2) My stomach is full.
1) クチキリ アルカ ku=cikir arka
2) クホニ シク ku=honi sik
This is the end of part one. You can continue with part II of this course.
Thanks for your interest in this course! If you discovered any mistakes or you just want to say something then please let us know . We do need feedback!