北の生活文化（History of Ainu language）
|History of Ainu language|
|105. Rehearsing a play performed in Ainu language|
| The genetic origin of Ainu language have yet to be fully researched as in the case of Japanese language and there have been no linguistic theories that elucidate the development of the Ainu language based on reliable evidence and a dependable research approach. Despite similarities in word order between Ainu language and Japanese, substantial differences do exist between the two languages in regard to vocabulary and grammar as suggested by the use of the personal affixes for "I " and "you" which are attached to verbs in the Ainu language.
The Ainu language has disappeared from people's everyday lives due to the fact that the Japanese language has become dominant in social and economic activities since the Meiji era in Hokkaido. An additional reason for the decline of the Ainu language is the assimilation policies imposed on the Ainu people by the Japanese.
Although the Ainu language was given a written form in relatively recent times, there are diffirent modes of writing as is shown by the use of the Roman alphabet as well as hiragana and katakana styles.
There have been movements beginning approximately in the Taisho era to record the Ainu language and the wisdom of the Ainu people by the Ainu themselves. The flagship product of such efforts as these was the publication of "Ainu Mythic Epics by Yukie Chiri in 1923, which was followed by the record of the Ainu language recently compiled by Motozo Nabesawa, Tatsujiro Kuzuno and Shigeru Kayano. Ainu language classes were started in 1987 by the Hokkaido Ainu Association and have sprung up at more than ten locations in Hokkaido today.
|Hokkaido toponyms (place-names) influenced by Ainu language|
|107. "Pet" and "Nay" are terms meaning a river in Ainu language, and names
of places in Hokkaido are quite often associated with these terms.
(A bridge over the mouth of the Ishikari River)
| Places in Hokkaido originally had Ainu names from the Ainu language. Most of these names generally are read using Chinese characters (kanji) today, while some have been replaced by names of Japanese origin. Yet, names of villages, towns and cities are mostly derived from the Ainu language. Names in the Ainu language exist in several areas in the north of the Tohoku region in Honshu. This fact was proved through research work done by a prominent scholar of Ainu language toponymy, Hidezo Yamada.
A study of Ainu language toponymy, had been conducted successfully focusing on chosen toponyms which were interpreted as being descriptive of some topographical or geographical features of the places concerned. Yamada, in his research efforts, advanced the study of Ainu toponymy beyond the conventional approach of studying the names of places focusing on words and grammar alone. A methodology was established by Yamada to clarify the linkage between toponyms and topography through a series of field reseach projects on the topography at many locations which had been given the same name. Further, among the toponyms in the Ainu language there are many names of which the origins are not known. Also not known are which locations and topographical features originally prompted people to adopt names such as Satporo in the Ainu language or Sapporo in Japanese, Iskar or Ishikari, and Tokapci or Tokachi.
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