NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ937154
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 45
ISSN: ISSN-1550-7076
Ainu as a Heritage Language of Japan: History, Current State and Future of Ainu Language Policy and Education
Teeter, Jennifer Louise; Okazaki, Takayuki
Heritage Language Journal, v8 n2 p96-114 Sum 2011
Ainu is the heritage language of the indigenous people of present-day southern Sakhalin, the Kurile Islands, present-day Hokkaido, and northeastern Honshu (mainland Japan). The UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger (2009) considered the Ainu language critically endangered with only 15 speakers remaining. This article scrutinizes UNESCO's assessment and analyzes the historical and current situation of the Ainu language and its transmission, particularly evaluating government policies related to the transmission of the Ainu language. Analysis in this article will draw upon our field observations and interviews conducted in Hokkaido. Numerous formal and informal discussions were conducted with Ainu teachers, politicians, community members, and activists. Our findings indicate that the grassroots language revitalization efforts have been made and a growing number of youth speak Ainu, although their proficiency levels vary. While policymakers recognize the government's responsibility in reversing language shift, they have yet to articulate adequate policies. The authors conclude with a discussion of the state's positive responsibility to realize the rights ensured by the United Nations of Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This realization will facilitate the transmission of Ainu language and culture, and ensure its vitality in the future. (Contains 1 table and 4 notes.)
National Heritage Language Resource Center and UC Consortium for Language Learning & Teaching. 1333 Rolfe Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1411. Tel: 310-825-1138; Fax: 310-206-5183; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan