hindupridemn wrote:The book "Japan's Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity" edited by Michael Weiner is good about all minorities in Japan but didn't have much info into languages in particular per se.
hindupridemn wrote:There is also a series of books called "Endangered Peoples of the World" I'm sure the Ainu are mentioned in the book on East Asia. Some scholars have put the Ainu in books and studies of Siberian peoples so look there if you want.
Also should be noted that all Ainu texts which were used as materials of "Itak=an ro" festival or as materials for the Ainu language lesson and also Ainu newspaper "Aynu Times" written mostly in katakana and even somewhere Latin alphabet is used it is always followed by katakana but never opposite way.
On the first sight such an innocence fact is really a very dangerous thing because it negatively influences on Ainu language. The matter is the following: in Ainu language there are syllables of the following structures V, CV, VC, CVC. In Japanese syllables may have only the following structure: CV, CVn, CCV - consonant are the same.
When Ainu words are written in katakana all Ainu CVC syllables become CVCV structures: pirka becomes pirika ピリカ, mukkur becomes mukkuri/mukkuru - ムックリ / ムックル.
But now they sometimes use a special variant of katakana, where signs designating consonants are twice small than the main font:ペッ- pet. However this variant of katakana have been elaborated just nowadays and really they usually use usual katakana and so all Ainu VC syllables become VCV structures, and Ainu CVC syllables become CVCV structures.
If it would change just the phonotactics of Ainu - it would not be so dangerous. But we have to remember that Ainu words written in katakana become absolutely unclear from the morphological point of view. It is impossible to analyse such words, it is impossible to understand the meaning of these words, while when Ainu words are written in Latin alphabet morphemes bounds are absolutely clear and you can somehow understand the meaning of a word if you see of what morphemes it consists.
The following is a very characteristic example: itak=an ro means "let's speak", it consists of three morphemes: verbal root itak - "to speak", personal marker - 1pl., inclusive - =an and particle ro expressing invitation to do something together; when it is written in katakana, for example in the poster of this festival, it is: イタカンロ - it is absolutely evident that when such a way of recording is used the only what can be singled out from this word form is particle ro. And it is absolutely impossible to single out verbal root or personal marker. Also I think that here we also have an influence of Japanese tradition to write clitics connected with the nuclear member.
So now I think it is absolutely evident that if we record Ainu words in katakana it seriously block the analisys of word structure and real, it preservs the understanding of language structure and slowly step by step the real imagination of Ainu language structure disaappeares.
Finally it is a very unconvenient way of recording of Ainu words but the most strange is that Ainu themselves prefer to use katakana to record texts in Ainu.
6. Dangerous Conclusions
Of course 600 people is much better than 15 people of Ethnologue or 5 people of Murasaki. But if we look at percentage we understand that the situation is very pitiful. For example in such ethnicities as Basque or Eskimo speakers are about 60 - 80% of total number. Only such percentage can warrant the maintain and normal existance of language while 3% mean the death of language.
This is not only death of language but also death of culture.
What is culture in our times? What is culture in modern world? What does it mean "culture"? What we mean when we say the word "culture"?
Nowadays when globalization increases when anthropological differences between cultures disappear fast, when almost all cultures use the same technology what can be the basis for identification a person as a member of certain ethnic group? What can be the root the backbone of a certain cultural tradition?
In the case of Ainu we must not look at the anthropological types because of after centuries of intermarriage with Japanese Ainu mostly lost their original type. We must not look at those who perform so called "traditional Ainu rites" or wear Ainu wearing: most of "traditional Ainu rights" really were invented by Japanese in order to attract tourists (for example famous marimo rite or carving of bear figures).
Culture is not things, is not weraing. Culture is a way of thinking, way of behaiviour. And as far as way of thinking and way of behaviour are very well reflected by language so language is the main root of any culture.
According to Whorf if people use a certain language they adopt certain concepts, certain way of world view, certain way of thinking through this language. Language is the key and the backbone of any cultural traditions.
Because of it in the case of Ainu, I think, it is possible to state the following: really those who identify themselves as Ainu, wear Ainu wearing but cannot speak Ainu must not be treated as Ainu, only those who identify themselves as Ainu and can speak Ainu should be treated as Ainu.
So I think that the real number of Ainu is equal to the number of Ainu speakers.
And then: what is the role of Utari or Foundation for Reservation and Promotion of Ainu Culture? I think that now it can be clearly seen by everybody: the main aim of such organizations is to control Ainu culture. These organizations really are just the continuation of Japanese colonializm. The fact that they grant money to some Ainu just approves our conclusion: all colonial power always distinguish a group in any of colonized ethnicity and grant this group in order to manage control over this ethnicity by this group and in order to prevent any disturbance of their policy.
Those who really know language and can really speak it don't need any material support from any foundations or organizations to speak it. Those who can really speak don't need to organize strange festivals in order to speak.
All the efforts to preserve "traditional Ainu culture" such as museums, ethnographical settlings, festivals, and even such as "Iwor" project - a project of a special reservation where Ainu are supposed to live according to so called "traditional Ainu culture" in the wild nature together with animals for Japanese would be able to research them, all these items are just different kinds of theater.
Ainu are a part of Japanese society: Ainu use vending-machines, Ainu buy food in combinience stores, Ainu like karaoke and pachinko. Moreover, we have to remember that sometimes contemporary Ainu know about their own culture much less than Japanese. Finally, it is hardly possible to manage traditional Ainu existance in contemporary Japan cause such a way of life requires a vast space of wild nature, which are obviously absent in contemporary Japan.
And also should be noted that in our times there are no traditional cultures, cause all so called minorities accept the products of Western civilization and develop their languages for they will be able to express all the subject of contemporary world.
So if sphere of Ainu language use is determined as a language of traditional culture only it is just a theater but not a usual use of language. It is not preservation at all. It is death of language and death of culture.
But if there are somebody who really cares about maintain and development of Ainu language and Ainu culture what measures can be recommended? What have to be done?
First we have to know that no one language can exist without a society cause any language is a social structure. So I think only autonomy can save Ainu language as well as any other human language. So if Japanese government really cares about maintain of Ainu language it has to think seriously about Ainu autonomy. This autonomy must not be such a project like "Iwor" or an "ethnographical settling" it should be such an autonomy where Ainu language would be used in normal everyday life: in a railway station, in a shop, in a bar et.c. So I think it would be better to make Ainu refuse their traditional culture and start to manage modern industry for they will beable to get money and an influence on contemporary Japan. Then having got money Ainu would be able to buy lands of their ancestors and it would be "Aynu Mosiri" which is so much spoken about, having got money Ainu would be able to set their own education system where they really will learn Ainu. I think if Japanese government really cares about Ainu it has to grant much more rights to Ainu people, to Ainu communities; also the status of Ainu language has to be changed. Really, I think, there is no need of an independent state but there obviously is a necessity of a wide autonomy inside of Japanese state.
But unfortunately Ainu themselves cannot understand it and also cannot do anything. They are so depraved that they cannot act. If they were Basque they have already got everything. But Ainu are not fighters. Unfortunately since long ago they aren't fighters. Now they cannot act. They misunderstand that if they don't act nobody acts instead of them. They are just like bear who sits in the cage and waits for candies. A bear who forget that he is a bear, that he can easily break the cage. All the contemporary Ainu culture is such a bear in cage.
Sean of the Dead wrote:Ainu uses Katakana. Go to WikiPedia or Omniglot and look it up yourself.
ILuvEire wrote:Dude, what's the point of these topics? Look up Ainu. Look up katakana. Put two and two together.
Your name would be the symbols "ni-ko-ra-s" (Ainu has -s doesn't it?)
Cesare M. wrote:Ok, I think we should end that discussion. Let's actually start the Ainu conversation so I can practice the language:
ウウェランカラプ アン ナー。 イランカラプテー。 ヘマンタ ネプキ ア・キ コロ アナン？
Tresi wrote:Ainu-Russian-English dictinoary
meidei wrote:PS. Speaking about IMEs, I think it's easy to develop a conversion machine for iBus. I think it uses python.
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