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Posted: 2007-07-24, 7:40
by Karavinka
I recently got interested in Ainu and I'm going over the lessons from Radio Sapporo Ainu Lessons. Well, I was interested before as well but now my Japanese is sufficient to go through the lessons without causing me headache.

They broadcast about 50 lessons, once a week, and go back to the bare beginner's level. They have had many runs and the lessons improved over time, making them easily accessible and not too daunting.

I'm listening to the current run, but I might consider translating the lessons from the last run (as they're finished) broadcasted from April 2006 to March 2007, 52 lessons in total. The reason is that the last run is a lot more focused on the grammar while the current run is more communicative (which is not necessarily bad, but the chance of speaking Ainu is negligible, especially outside of Hokkaido).

Anyone interested in learning Ainu or helping the translation? There's no point doing that for nobody's sake.

Posted: 2007-07-24, 14:55
by Nero
I have never actually been interested in Ainu, but if you are willing to translate lessons for a moribund language, I am willing to take part in learning it.


On another note, I have always thought the Ainu people look freaking amazing:


Posted: 2007-07-24, 20:15
by nighean-neonach
Hmm, I've been interested in Ainu for quite a long time (actually since reading some children's books which were set in prehistoric Japan :D ), but I've never found any materials in English or any other language that would be accessible to me.
So, translations of lessons would be greatly appreciated.

Lesson 01: Simple Structure

Posted: 2007-07-24, 21:35
by Karavinka
Notes on Translation

1. Copyright. The lessons are copyrighted by the Sapporo TV, but I think the usage of the lessons here is justifiable as 1) this is not a commercial website nor I make any profit from it, and 2) this is to promote Ainu learning among the non-Japanese who are interested in the language yet unable to find any courseworks.
2. I have altered much of the explanatory materials as the original materials are geared towards the Japanese speakers. English speakers need a different explanation for the same grammatical concepts, and I will continue this way rather than translating words by words. Should there be any error, it is my own fault.

Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on April 2 2006


ウパ ル。
upas  ru.
Snow melts.

アチャポ エ
acapo  ek.
Uncle comes.

Words in the Sentences

アチャポ acapo Uncle
ウパ upas  Snow.
  ek   To come.
ル    ru   To melt, road.


Ainu is a sound that does not exist in Japanese, simply final -k instead of normal Japanese Katakana pronunciation of -ku. Although these Ainu Katakana are included in the Unicode, they are not as small as they are supposed to be and hard to distinguish. Here, I just used a smaller font size for these special Katakana. (The original lesson marks these with an asterisk.) The lesson spends a fair amount of time with these pronunciations as they are alien to the Japanese speakers, but they would not be a problem for those who can read this lesson in English.

For those who do not know Katakana, you can simply stick to the Roman alphabet. Roman Ainu is fairly phonetic, but note c (as in "acapo") is pronounced similar to ch in "church". But it would be helpful to learn Katakana as well as both Roman and Katakana are used to write Ainu.

Japanese proper names may remain in Japanese Kanji even in Ainu when it is written in Katakana.

More examples using Ainu Katakana:

 cis To cry
ネ kosne light, not heavy (adj) 
イルカ iruska To be angry
 ak Younger grother, to shoot an arrow from a bow.
 hok To buy
ネ takne short (adj)

Practice Sentences

Translate into Ainu:

Whale rises.
Rain falls.

ヤン  yan  To rise
フンベ humpe Whale
  as    To fall
ルアンペ ruyanpe Rain

Posted: 2007-07-24, 21:51
by Nero
My answers

Whale rises = [spoiler]フンベ ヤン (humpe yan)[/spoiler]
Rain falls = [spoiler]ルアンペ アシ(ruyanpe as[/spoiler])

Lesson 02: Simple Structure (2)

Posted: 2007-07-26, 10:00
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on April 9 2006

タント レラ ア
tanto rera as.
Today wind blows.

タネ メアン。
tane mean.
Now (it is) cold.

Words in the Sentences

   as   To blow.
タネ   tane   Now
タント  tanto   Today (tan=this, to=day)
メアン  mean   To be cold.
レラ   rera   Wind.


In lesson 2, we add additional words to illustrate the time phrase. Ainu has a basic Subject-Object-Verb structure with the word order similar to Japanese.

"ア" 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" used in the sentence is translated as "to blow", but in Ainu context it is permissible to translate as simply "to do."


Ainu accents are different from Japanese, although Ainu pronounced with Japanese accents would still be understood, it may not sound natural. Ainu stress often falls on the second syllable.

tane Now
chise House
sita Dog
poro Big, large
nukar To see

Practice Sentences

Translate into Ainu.

Today is cold.
Snow falls a lot this year.

メアン mean To be cold.
タント tanto Today.
ウパ upas Snow.
ポロ  poro  Much, big
タンパ tanpa This year.

Answers from Lesson 1

[spoiler]1.フンペ ヤン humpe yan
2.ルヤンペ アシ ruyanpe as[/spoiler]

Lesson 03: Talking about the Past

Posted: 2007-07-27, 14:59
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons
Broadcasted on April 16 2006


ヌマン ルヤンペ ア
numan ruyanpe as.
Yesterday rain fell.

ラン カムイフ ア
ukuran  kamuyhum as.
Last evening thunder stroke.

Words in the Sentence

    as    (rain, snow) falls, (wind) blows, (something) rings/sounds, (something) is heard.
ラン  ukran   Last evening
カムイフ kamuyhum Thunder. カムイ=bear, god. フム=sound.
ヌマン    numan  yesterday
ルヤンペ  ruyanpe  rain. "アプト" in some dialects.


Unlike Japanese or English which make distinction between, 降る・降った / falls・fell, Ainu makes no distinction of this kind. Instead, Ainu specifies the time frame with the words referring to the past such as ukran, numan.

Notes on Pronunciation

Ainu Katakana is not fully pronounced like normal Katakana ム (mu), but just a -m sound. Again, this would not be difficult for English speakers.

イサ isam not to exist
コマ komam falling leaf
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・ウラン・カムイフ (ruyanpe, ukran, kamuyhum) the first syllables are not accepted.

Practice Sentences

1. Yesterday the wind was strong.
2. Two days ago snow fell.

ヌマン numan Yesterday
レラ  rera Wind
ルイ  ruy Strong
      as    To fall
ウパ    upas   Snow
カヌマン hoskanuman Two days ago

Answers from Lesson 2

[spoiler]1.タント メアン tanto mean
2.タント ウパシ ポロ tanto upas poro [/spoiler]

Posted: 2007-07-27, 15:57
by Nero
Today is cold. [spoiler](1.タント メアン) tanto mean[/spoiler]

I have a question about this one: Snow falls a lot this year. The answer says [spoiler](2.タント ウパシ ポロ) tanto upas poro[/spoiler]

I'm trying to figure out how it works

Tanto = today
upas = snow
poro = much

my own answer would've been [spoiler]Tanpa upas poro[/spoiler], but I don't know about that one either. Could you help me, Noir :twisted:

Posted: 2007-07-27, 16:07
by Karavinka
Nero, you're correct.

I copied "the answers" from the lesson page, and there seems to be an error there. Yes, "this year" should be tanpa.

The original Japanese lessons are by no means perfect. It stopped marking Ainu Katakana from lesson 2, and I've been marking them based on the pronunciation (and the discussions) I hear and Roman Ainu version. Also, there were certain typographic errors in Ainu texts that I corrected.

Posted: 2007-07-27, 16:42
by Nero
日本の人はおもしろいです :)

Lesson 04: Handling an Object

Posted: 2007-07-27, 23:05
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on April 23 2006


ヘカチ イタンキ エヤキリ。
hekaci itanki   eyapkir.
Boy throws a dish.

ウナペ スマ オテケ。
unarpe  suma oterke.
Aunt steps on a stone.

Words in the Sentence

イタンキ   itanki  Dish
ウナペ  unarpe  Aunt, middle-aged woman.
エヤキリ eyapkir  To throw something
オテケ  oterke  To step on something
スマ     suma   Stone
ヘカチ    hekaci  Boy


Basic Ainu word order is Subject+Object+Verb. Unlike Japanese, Ainu does not mark the subject or object with particles like が or を and the words simply need to be in the right order.

"The dog bites the man" and "the man bites the dog" differ in the word order in English, and the same in Ainu.

Notes on Pronunciation

Small is pronounced as -p. (Unlike full Katakana プ, pu)

チェ cep fish
チカ cikap bird
シネ sinep one (of something)

Small is pronounced as -ri but much softer than usual Japanese ri. You may drop -i sound as well.

カ pirka good, beautiful
チキ cikir foot
キキ kikir worm

Small is pronounced as -r.

 ker shoe
エト etor nasal mucus
ケ terke Jump

Sometimes the spelling differs in Katakana Ainu. Roman Ainu remains the same.

=カ kar to make
ムン=エムン ermun mouse
コニ=ココニ korkoni butterbur

Practice Sentences

Uncle buys drink.
Dog eats bone.

トノト   tonopo  Alcoholic drink
ホク    hok   To buy
アチャポ acapo  Uncle, middle-aged man
ポネ pone Bone
シタ sita  Dog
エ   e  To eat

Answers from Lesson 3

[spoiler]1.ヌマン レラ ルイ numan rera ruy
2.ホカヌマン ウパ ア hoskanuman upas as[/spoiler]

Posted: 2007-07-31, 14:00
by Nero
Sorry I haven't been around lately answering these exercises. Anyway, Lesson 3:

Yesterday the wind was strong:
[spoiler]ヌマン レラ ルイ (Numan rera ruy)[/spoiler]

Two days ago snow fell:
[spoiler]ホシカヌマン ウパシ アシ (hoskanuman upas as)[/spoiler]

And Lesson 4:

Uncle buys drink [spoiler]アチャポ トノト ホク (Acapo tonopo hok)[/spoiler]
Dog eats bone [spoiler]シタ ポネ エ (sita pone e)[/spoiler]

Lesson 05: Saying "My..."

Posted: 2007-08-01, 5:02
by Karavinka

Before the translation:
I received the e-mail from Mr. Minehiro Sugamu, the producer of STV who is in charge of the Ainu lessons, that it is okay to translate and post the lessons. This first online Ainu lessons in English were made possible thanks to everyone in the station.

Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on April 30 2006


クパケ アカ。
ku=pake arka.
My head hurts. (I have a headache.)

クチキリ タンネ。
ku=cikiri tanne.
My leg is long.

Words in the Sentences

カ arka Hurt, pain.
ク    ku=  I, my.
タンネ tanne Long.
チキリ cikiri Leg.
パケ  pake Head.


There are two ways of saying "my.." in Ainu, and we introduce the first one in this lesson.

When you talk about body parts like head, face, nose, hand or leg, you use the prefix ku= (ク) before the word.

クナヌ ku=namu My face
クエトゥ ku=etu My nose
クテケ ku=teke My hand
クホニ  ku=honi My stomach


カ (arka), "to hurt" may be pronounced and written as アラカ (araka) as well. And クチキリ (ku=cikiri) is pronounced as one word, don't break between ku and cikiri.

And pay attention to the accent. The stress falls on the second syllable.

パケ ku=pake
テケ ku=teke

Practice Sentences

My leg hurts.
My stomach is full.

ク    ku=  I, My
カ arka  Hurt
チキリ cikiri  Leg
ホニ honi Stomach
 sik  Full

Answers from Lesson 4

[spoiler]1.アチャポ トノト ホク acapo tonoto hok.
2.シタ ポネ エ     sita pone e[/spoiler]

Posted: 2007-08-01, 12:41
by Supreemio
Is it true that only 15 people speak this language today?

Posted: 2007-08-01, 21:23
by Karavinka
Sneachta wrote:Is it true that only 15 people speak this language today?

Most Ainu speakers learned Ainu as a second language, and the estimation of the number of the actual speakers varies greatly. The number '15' that Ethnologue gives is probably the native speakers existed in 1996.

But Ainu has been (and still is) going through an active revitalisation process since then, and the number of the speakers increased greatly. (I suppose still in thousands, but there's no concrete statistics.)

Lesson 06: Saying "My..." (2)

Posted: 2007-08-03, 15:23
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on May 7 2006


クコル マキリ エエン。
ku=kor makiri een.
My knife is sharp.

クコル ウナルペ イルシカ。
ku=kor unarpe  iruska.
My aunt is angry.

Words in the Sentences

イルシカ iruska angry
ウナルペ unarpe aunt
エエン  een   sharp
ク    ku=   I, my
コル   kor   to have
マキリ  makiri knife


Ainu preffix ku= works as a personal pronoun, and -kor here is a verb that works as "to have, to bear something." The phrase "Ku=kor ..." is "... that I have", which translates as "my..." This is another way of saying possession in Ainu.

As it is explained in the last lesson, simple ku= is used to express possessions of the bodily part, as in "ku=pake", "my head." "Ku=kor pake" is not an idiomatic Ainu usage.

When it comes to the family or relatives, it is "ku=kor."

  クコル エカシ  ku=kor ekasi  My grandfather
  クコル フチ   ku=kor huci  My grandmother
  クコル アチャ  ku=kor aca   My father
  クコル ハポ   ku=kor hapo  My mother
  クコル アチャポ ku=kor acapo  My uncle
  クコル ウナルペ ku=kor unarpe My aunt

But "my father" and "my mother" can also be said as "kuaca" and "kuhapo" as well.


The word エエン een, "sharp" is not pronounced as a "long" E. Two エ are pronounced separately, with the accent on the second syllable.

エン een

Practice Sentences

My horse is big.
My father came.

  ウンマ umma  horse
  クコル ku=kor my
  ポロ  poro  big
  エク   ek   come
  アチャ  aca   father

Answers from Lesson 5

[spoiler]1.クチキリ アルカ ku=cikiri arka
2.クホニ シク ku=honi sik[/spoiler]

Lesson 07: I do...

Posted: 2007-08-07, 14:50
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on May 14 2006


I play. (as in having fun, not sports or music.)

ボロンノ クアプカシ。
poronno ku=apkas.
I walk a lot.

Words in the Sentences

アプカシ apkas  To walk
ク    ku=   I
シノッ  sinot  To play
ポロンノ poronno A lot


Personal pronouns must be marked in Ainu in all times, unlike Japanese and some others where the personal pronoun may be omitted. The word we're given here, ku, is the same ku as in "my.." and it is placed before the verb or noun. Thus it is called "personal prefix."

Although this hasn't been specified in the original lesson, note that the adverbs like poronno and the words that mark the time phrase (today, yesterday..) are placed before the personal prefix and the verb.


Pay attention to the small ッ. Although this exists in the standard Katakana set, it is still hard for most Japanese to pronounce as it never appears in the word ending. However, it does in Ainu.

サッ sat To dry
クッ kut Belt
アペソコッ apesokot Hearth, fireplace

Many place names in Hokkaido that end with ~別 ~betsu come from Ainu ペッ pet, meaning "river."

The personal prefix ku is never pronounced separated from the verb. Pronounce it as if it were one word. And the accent is always placed in the second syllable.

シニ  ku=sini I rest.
ミナ ku=mina I laugh.
モコル ku=mokor I sleep.
エク ku=ek  I come.

Practice Sentences

1. I come today
2. I played yesterday.

ク   ku=  I
タント tanto Today
エク  ek   To come
シノッ sinot To play
ヌマン numan Yesterday

Answers from Lesson 6

[spoiler]1.クコル ウンマ ポロ ku=kor umma poro
2.クコル アチャ エク ku=kor aca ek[/spoiler]

Lesson 08: I do... (2)

Posted: 2007-08-17, 22:31
by Karavinka
I apologise for a negligible number of those of you who have been waiting for this, I have been rather busy lately.

Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on May 21 2006


ワッカ クク。
wakka ku=ku.
I drink water.

ヌマン ハンバーガー クエ。
numan hambaga   Ku=e.
Yesterday I ate hamburger.

Words in the Sentences

エ      e      to eat
ク      ku=     I
ク      ku      to drink
ヌマン    numan    yesterday
ハンバーガー hambaga   hamburger
ワッカ    wakka    water

"Foreign words" (gairaigo) that entered Japanese and are usually written in Katakana in Japanese are used in the same way in Ainu as well.


As explained in the previous lesson, the pronominal prefix ku= is attached before the verb, and it is not placed in front of the sentence.

I go tomorrow.
○ ニサッタ クオマン。 Nisatta ku=oman.
× ク ニサッタ オマン。Ku nisatta oman.

I ride a horse.
○ ウンマ クオ Umma ku=o.
× ク ウンマ オ Ku umma o.

Also there are many words that are essential in modern life that just don't exist in Ainu. Japanese makes a heavy use of the foreign loanwords (gairaigo) to solve this problem such as バス(basu: bus), インターネット(intanetto, internet), ラジオ(rajio, radio) and such words can be used the same way in Ainu as well.

Practice Sentences

1. I have("hold") a lot of money.
2. I drink a little bit of hot water.

  ク    ku=   I
  コル   kor   To have, to hold
  イチェン icen   Money
  ポロンノ poronno A lot of
  ウセウ  usew  Hot water
  ク    ku   To drink
  ポンノ  ponno  A little bit of

Answers from Lesson 7

[spoiler]1.タント クエク tanto ku=ek
2.ヌマン クシノッ numan ku=sinot[/spoiler]

Lesson 09: Continuous

Posted: 2007-08-17, 23:26
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on May 28 2006


ハポ   モンライケ カネ   アン。
hapo   monrayke  kane   an.
Mother is working.

アチャ  映画 ヌカル カネ   アン。
aca    EIGA nukar kane   an.
Father is watching a movie.

Words in the Sentences

アチャ   aca    Father
アン    an     To be
映画    EIGA    Movie
カネ    kane    ~ing (making a continuous tense)
ヌカル   nukar   To look.
ハポ    hapo    Mother
モンライケ monrayke  To work.

映画 eiga is a Japanese word, and thus written in Kanji. There are many words from Japanese, and they may still be written in Kanji.

ヌカル nukar may be pronounced as ヌカラ nukara as well.


In this lesson ~カネ アン ~kane an is used to make a continuous sense, but it can be ~コル アン ~kor an or its shorter form ~コラン ~koran depending on the area. The latter forms may be used in Samani (様似) area as well, ~kane an is more common. This lesson focuses on this dialect.

The word for "father" differs in different regions. In Samani, アチャ aca is used, and also in Urakawa, Mitsuishi, Shizunai, Hiroo, Shiranuka, Kushiro, Akan, Bihoro, Wakkanai and many other areas. Same word is used in some areas of Sakhalin, with a slightly different pronunciation: アーチャ a:ca.

Another word ミチ mici means father as well, but a dead father. But there are regions where two words are used interchangeably. And aca may mean an "uncle" in many regions as well.

"Mother" is less complex, it is ハポ hapo in most areas of Hokkaido, including Samani.


It is commonly said that Ainu has no voiced consonants, but in fact it has. In Samani, the word for mother hapo is often pronounced as habo.

Voiced/Voiceless do matter in Japanese, as it can change the meaning: kaki (persimmon) and kagi (key) are different words. These are free variants in Ainu, meaning that it doesn't change the meaning. Ruyanpe (rain) can be ruyanbe, hunpe (whale) can be hunbe, etc. k/g, t/d, p/b are the common allophones in Ainu.

How one should pronounce a word depends on the individual habit and the region, but the most accepted pronunciation is to pronounce them voiceless, and it is advised for the learners to pronounce them voiceless.

Practice Sentences

1. Dog is swimming.
2. Aunt is making dango.

  マ  ma  To swim
  カネ kane ~ing
  シタ sita Dog
  アン an  To be
  ウナルペ unarpe Aunt
  シト   sito  Dango (kind of a snack)
  カル   kar   To make

Answers from Lesson 8
[spoiler]1.イチェン ポロンノ クコル icen poronno ku=kor
2.ウセウ ポンノ クク usen ponno ku=ku[/spoiler]

Lesson 10: Verb Plurals

Posted: 2007-08-18, 23:02
by Karavinka
Sapporo TV Ainu Radio Lessons

Broadcasted on June 4 2006


スマ アン。
suma an.
(There) is a stone.

スマ オカイ。
suma okay.
(There) are stones.

Words in the Sentences

アン  an   To be; to exist (singular)
オカイ okay  To be; to exist (plural)
スマ  suma  Stone


Ainu is grammatically similar with Japanese in many aspects, but there are notable differences. Using different verbs to mark the plural is one of it.

A Japanese sentence "魚がいる" (sakana ga iru, "there is/are fish") may mean there is one fish or more. Ainu makes this differenciation from using plurals not on the noun, but the verb. If there were only one fish, the Ainu verb would be an, if two or more, the verb would be okay.

There are a number of such verbs, and here is a short list of them.

オマン oman  パイエ    paye   To go
エク  ek   アルキ    arki   To come
アフン ahun  アフプ    ahup   To enter
ソイネ soyne  ソイエンパ soyenpa  To go outside
サン  san   サプ    sap    To appear (in front of something or on the beach), To move down (on the river, etc)
ホプニ hopuni ホプンパ   hopunpa  To wake up, to rise, to fly (a bird or such)
ホシピ hosipi ホシッパ   hosippa  To return, to come back

But not all Ainu verbs have distinct plural forms, such as シノッ sinot "to play, have fun" applies to both singular and plural subjects. And while Japanese has two different verbs "to exist, to be there", such as いる iru for animate subjects and ある aru for the inanimate subjects, Ainu makes no distinction between them.

カネ kane from the last lesson can be used as kane an and kane okay to make the continuous sense of these verbs.

Another notable feature is that the subject can be omitted in both Ainu and Japanese. The original lesson does not mention this, but it should be noted for non-Japanese speakers. There has to be some subject in English such as "it" or "there", but this is not necessary in Ainu.


As it has been emphasised in the previous lessons, Ainu accent falls on the second syllable. It is suma, not suma.

Practice Sentences

1. There is a deer.
2. There are a lot of people.

  アン an   To be; to exist. (singular)
  ユク yuk  Deer
  アイヌ  aynu   Person
  オカイ  okay   To be; to exist. (plural)
  ポロンノ poronno Many, a lot

Answers from Lesson 9

[spoiler]1.シタ マ カネ アン sita ma kane an
2.ウナルペ シト カネ アン unarpe sito kane an[/spoiler]