Ainu (アイヌ・イタㇰ, ainu itak) or Hokkaido Ainu is the sole survivor of the Ainu languages. It is spoken by the Ainu ethnic group of the northern Japanese island Hokkaido. The official Japanese government estimate is that there are 25,000 Ainu people in Japan, but only 10 people speak the language as their native language. Ainu is a language isolate, which means that it has no genealogical relationship with other languages. Ainu is written in the Latin alphabet and modified katakana.
イランカラㇷ゚テ [iránkarapte] – Hello
アプンノ オカ ヤン [apúnno oká yan] – Goodbye (to those who stay)
アプンノ パイェ ヤン [apúnno payé yan] – Goodbye (to those who leave)
エイワンケ ヤ？ [e=iwanke ya] – How are you?
クイワンケ ワ [ku=iwanke wa] – I’m fine
イヤイライケレ [iyairaikere] – Thank you
ヒオーイオイ [híoy’oy] – Thanks
エー [e] – Yes
ソモ [somo] – No
Listen: Teruyo speaks Ainu
Learn about the Ainu people:
- Ainu Association of Hokkaido
- Ainu Museum
- The Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture
- TOKYO Ainu Promotional Video (youtube)