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The Study of the Ainu Language

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Title: The Study of the Ainu Language
Authors: SATO, Tomomi Browse this author
Issue Date: Feb-2006
Publisher: Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
Journal Title: Journal of the Graduate School of Letters
Volume: 1
Start Page: 45
End Page: 52
Abstract: The purpose of this short essay is to introduce to the readers the general knowledge about the Ainu people and their language, as well as to stress the urgency of the linguistic and cultural study. In addition,as a case study,I discuss the problem ofʻglide insertionʼin Ainu in some detail. In previous studies the glides in question have been supposed to be perfectly predictable from the phonological environment. Therefore, they have often been ignored in phonological notation. However, I argue that there are a number of cases in which these glides do not happen in spite of the same environment. In short, the appearance of the glides is not only controlled by the phonological environment, but also depends strongly on the morphological properties of the preceding elements. The glides serve to make a given word-structure more transparent. This claim is supported by a number of facts. First, the phenomenon (the occurrence or non-occurrence of the glides) can be seen clearly in the soundspectrograms of the forms in question. The claim is also supported by studying Ainu texts written by an Ainu native speaker him/herself. In fact, we can find that the glides in question are almost always clearly written, for example, in Yukie Chiriʼs famous Ainu text Ainu shinyoshu (a collection of Ainu epics of gods). Moreover, there is morpho-syntactic evidence as well as phonological for the significance of these glides. We should predict that the non-occurrence of the glides indicates the independent nature of the preceding element. This is supported by the fact that nominal forms with the prefix si-ʻoneselfʼ,which does not trigger glide insertion,cannot always be incorporated, but may be separated from verbs (i. e. expressed syntactically) in the Horobetsu dialect of Ainu.
Type: bulletin (article)
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences > Volume 1

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