Ainu

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A language of Japan

Alternate Names
Ainu Itak
Population

10 (Bradley 2007a). Ethnic population: 15,000.

Location

Hokkaido Prefecture, Tsishima, Kuril islands.

Language Status

8b (Nearly extinct).

Dialects

Sakhalin (Saghilin), Taraika, Hokkaido (Ezo, Yezo), Kuril (Shikotan, Tsishima). There were at least 19 dialects.

Typology

SOV; postpositions; noun head final; case-marking; verb affixes mark person, number; aspect; 12 consonant and 5 vowel phonemes; non-tonal.

Language Use

Shifting to Japanese [jpn]. Small numbers of young people are learning Ainu in classes; revival efforts underway (Bradley 2007a). Fluent speakers are 80 and older; some additional semi-speakers are 60 and older (2012).

Language Development
Newspapers. New media. Dictionary. Grammar. NT: 1897.
Writing

Katakana script [Kana], primary usage. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Ainu [aib] in China is a different, unrelated language.

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