Cal Interpreting & Translations (CIT) offers Ainu interpreters and translators with legal, medical and specialty experience, including criminal and civil matters, employee meetings, engineering, patent cases, labor disputes, immigration and more.

Although based in Los Angeles, CIT offers comprehensive Ainu language services including interpretation, translation and transcription, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, worldwide. Our interpreters and translators are native speakers who have been screened, certified, have provided credentials, field tested, and kept up to date with developments in both English and the Ainu language through means such as lectures, conferences, and travel. CIT’s Ainu language interpreters and translators possess in depth knowledge of the Ainu language, as well as of the culture and history of the Ainu people, allowing them to provide informed and complete interpretation and translation.

Introduction

The Ainu language is named after the Ainu people of Japan. Mainly found on the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido, the Ainu are not counted separately from the Japanese. Because of this, the only way to know how many Ainu are living is by counting those that consider themselves to be Ainu. By this process, the amount is expected to be no more than 25,000. It is no surprise that many Ainu hide from their identification considering the many years of segregation by the Japanese people towards the Ainu. It is therefore suspected that the true population of the Ainu is actually double if not triple the reported amount. It is difficult to determine the amount of pure blood Ainu as many have intermarried with Japanese.

Ainu Language

Most of the placed in Hokkaido are named in the Ainu language. The language has three main dialects: Hokkaido, Sakhalin and Kurile. The Hokkaido dialect is the most different from the others. It is suspected that the largest amount of Ainu people lived in the southern tip of the Russian peninsula called Sakhalin. The Russian government forced the Ainus who lived in Russia to move to Hokkaido. Others who lives in the Kurile Islands died because of poverty and disease.

Only until recently, Japanese scholars have not put an emphasis on studying Ainu. Since 1940, the number of Ainu speakers has declined drastically yet the study of the language has become quiet popular, yielding documentaries, books and television and radio broadcasts (Maher, 1995).

European missionaries, merchants and explorers for the main purpose of communication, wrote the first Ainu dictionary in the early 1600s. Not long after, studying the Ainu language became popular among European scholars. These scholars indicated quite thoroughly that the Ainu had more traits of Caucasians than of Japanese. It is therefore hypothesized that the Ainu have origins of Indo-European decent. It is commonly accepted that the Ainus are related to Hokaido and the North Pacific Rim because of their location and historical habitations. The relationship between the Ainu and Native Americans has been studied extensively, suggesting that the Ainu migrated from North America from Alaska to the Bering Sea, down to Siberia and finally to Sakhalin. It is also hypothesized that Ainu came from the south islands through Taiwan, Okinawa, Kyushu, up north to Honshu before arriving to Hokkaido (Hallen, 1999).

There is a suspected correlation between the Ainu and the Altaic family of languages, suggesting a genetic relationship.

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