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Ainu language for beginners

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'e-'a-sir kampi
lesson № 1


totto: topenpe an na. e yan.
unarpe: iyayraikere.
totto: keraan?
unarpe: sonno keraan.
totto: usey e=ku rusuy ya?
unarpe: ku=ku rusuy na
totto: o.
unarpe: hioy'oy.

new words

totto - mother
unarpe - aunt
topen-pe - cakes/candies
an - to be/to exist/to present
na - emphatic assertive particle
e - to eat (t.v.)
yan - particle used when polite imperative is formed
iyayraykere - thanx
keraan - to be tasty (stative verb)
sonno - really/truely
usey - hot water/boiling water (here is used to denote tea/coffe)
rusuy - want
ya - question marker particle
ku= personal affix of
o - here you are
hioy'oy - thanx (unformal)


mother: this is candies, eat please.
aunt: thanx.
mother: is it tasty?
aunt: it's very tasty.
mother: wish you drink tea/coffee?
aunt: I wish.
mother: here you are.
aunt: thanx.


1. iyayraykere - is the most widely used word to express gratitute. iyayraykere can be used by both men and women while hioy'oy is used mostly by women. hioy'oy is also used when they address to children.

2. imperative expressions
when they address to one person imperative form is just verb stem, for example: e - eat,
when they address to more than one person particle yan should be placed after the verb stem: e yan; and the same expression is used as respectful order addressed to one person.

3. interrogative sentences
there are different ways to ask common (yes/no) question. the easiest way is slight rise of intonation in the end of a sentence. then it is possible to form interrogative sentence using interrogative particle 'ya' which is placed in the very end of the sentence. when particle 'ya' is used slight intonation rising in the end of sentence also takes place.

4. personal affixes/personal markers
in Ainu verb should be obligatory expressed person and number of subject and object by different personal affixes. right now you are to remember the following two personal markers:
for instance:
'I drink' is ku=ku,
'you drink' is e=ku
(for convenience of allocation of personal affixes in text they separate from words to which are attached, by the mean of a sign "=")

5. emphatic sentence final particle 'na'
The particle na when is placed in the end of a sentence has the meaning of inducing a interlocutor to make something, it has the meaning of turn to some actions for example, if it is told: topen-pe an - that it simply ascertaining of the fact: 'here are cakes' and when it is told topen-pe an na is means 'here are cakes, eat!'.



iye tu kampi lesson № 2 hunna an?

unarpe: Hunna an?
   Tresi: Tresi ku=ne ruwe ne.
unarpe: Tresi e=ne ruwe ne?
   Tresi: Ruwe un.
unarpe: Ahup wa sini yan.
   Tresi: E.
Unarpe: E=iwanke ya?
    Tresi: Ku=iwanke wa.

new words and expressions:

hunna - who?
hunna an? - who is [there]?
ne - to be - copula
ruwe ne - literary "there is a trace" - auxiliary verb expressing highest degree of confidence, it is supposed that speaker was a participant of describing events or have seen everything by himself; 'ruwe ne' is often left  without any translation at all.
ruwe? - interrogative form of 'ruwe ne'
un - a form of affirmative answer
ruwe un - 'yes' (a variat of affirmative answer)
ahup - to enter (plural form)
wa - and: ahup wa sini - enter and take a rest/having entered take a rest
e - 'yes' (affirmative answer to an order or a question)
iwanke - literary 'to be used', 'to be fine', 'to be OK'
wa - sentence final particle, it has no meaning, it is attached just in order to soften a sentence, in order to make it less abrasive

aunt: who is there?
Tresi: this is Tresi.
aunt: are you really Tresi?
Tresi: yes it is.
aunt: enter and take a rest.
Tresi: OK.
aunt: how are you?
Tresi: I am fine.


1. copula
in Ainu language copula is 'ne', but it's just the stem,  and if we are going to express 'I am', 'you are' and so on we have to attach personal markers: ku= 1sgsb, e=2sgsb: ku=ne "I am", e=ne "you are".
it is very important to note that personal markers should not be separated from the stem, i.e. it's impossible to say: *Ku Tresi ne only Tresi ku=ne.
also it is possible to omit anything except verb if meaning can be understood from the context.
if 'ruwe ne' auxiliary is placed in the end of a phrase sentence becomes a bit more completed.

2. way of asking a question
when you ask a question you can attach word 'ruwe' in the end of sentence. meaning doesn't change much in this case. for example:
Tresi e=ne ruwe?
Tresi e=ne ya?
Tresi e=ne?

3. ways to say "yes"
assertative answer to a recommendation/order is expressed by word 'e', for example:
- ahup was sini yan
- e
it's important to note that this 'e' should be a long-drawn-out while in another cases longtitude of a sound has no meaning upon Ainu language.

(assertative answers to w/h questions will be discussed below)

if question is ended with 'ruwe' assertative answer also should be ended with 'ruwe'.

if question ends with particle 'ya' then assertative answer is just repetition of what is said in question without particle 'ya':
- Tresi e=ne ya?
- Tresi ku=ne.
the same form of assertative answer can be used if question is ended with 'ruwe'.

respectful/formal variant of assertative answer is 'ho', it is used when we address to a honored person.

4. sentence final particle 'wa'
being placed in the end of a sentence particle 'wa' soften the intonation of the phrase. for example, if it is said just 'ku=iwanke' it is normal and competent Ainu phrase but is sounds a bit abrasive. if particle 'wa' is added in the end of the phrase intonation becomes less abrasive.

5. greetings
there are no such expressions as japanese 'konnichi wa' - 'good afternoon' pon Ainu language.
in old days, when one person came to visit another one, they didn't submit a voice from street and designated the arrival by a tussiculation and a percussion on something, expecting while people indoors will notice. then the people who were indoors, asked who has come and were tidied up indoors and already then left towards to the visitor. when the visitor got permit to enter and entered, new greetings began.

Now expression 'e=iwanke ya?' ~ how are you? used as a greeting in all situations.

Also there is expression 'he' corresponding to '... haven't seen you for ages' for example:
utar he! ~ friends, I haven't seen you for ages!
Tresi he - Tresi, I haven't seen you for ages!

(will be continued)


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