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Title: Revitalizing Ainu. A Web-accessible Ainu-Japanese-English Conversational Dictionary 
Author: Bugaeva, Anna
Date: 2009-03-14
Description: Ainu (Northern Japan, isolate) is nearly extinct at present, as only a couple of people aged 80-90 remember their native language. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Ainu (present population about 100,000) experienced severe ethnic and linguistic repression from the state which led to the rapid abandonment of language and its eventual loss by succeeding generations of the Ainu. However, the attitude of many Ainu towards their native culture and language has changed to positive after the official adoption of ãThe Law for the Promotion of the Ainu Culture...? (1997) and the official recognition of the Ainu as the indigenous population of Hokkaido (2008). More and more Ainu are experiencing a new sense of self-identity and becoming aware of the importance of revitalizing their language and culture; 15 Ainu language schools were established. The creation of a web-accessible Ainu-Japanese-English Conversational Dictionary is a part of my ELDP project "Documentation of the Saru Dialect of Ainu" (2007-2009) which generally aims at creating digital corpora of newly and previously recorded Ainu audio materials. Having attended the 11th annual Ainu speech contest (November 2007), I realized that the Ainu community had a very strong demand for Ainu conversational audio recordings, since all previous Ainu documentation was focused on recording folklore. This made me revise my ELDP project to adjust it to the actual needs of the community. I decided to use a rarity "An Ainu-Japanese Conversational Dictionary" (3,847 lexemes/conversational phrases) compiled by anthropologists K. Jinbo and S. Kanazawa in 1898. The dictionary contains 3,847 entries, i.e. conversational phrases or words, and presumably belongs to the Saru dialect. I had the dictionary recorded by a speaker of the Saru dialect, Mrs. Setsu Kurokawa (85) who was either reading Ainu phrases transcribed in the Japanese (katakana) alphabet or repeating them after me. The speaker's productive skills improved so rapidly that she even started improvising on the dictionary. By the end of the grant period, I plan to complete a web-accessible reader-friendly edition of the Ainu conversational dictionary with audio and some video recordings supplemented with katakana transcriptions, English translations and multi-tire annotations. It will consist of a simple search interface that allows the user to enter a string to be found in the dictionary, either in Ainu or Japanese/English. I also intend to publish a paper edition of the dictionary to facilitate its use by those who do not have internet access.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/5110
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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