An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter I/Section IV

§ IV. ROOT AFFINITIES BETWEEN ANCIENT JAPANESE AND AINU.


But although, as has thus been pointed out, the Ainu language differs so much in point of grammatical structure from present Japanese, is there not, it may be inquired, some resemblence to be observed when, placing the accident of grammar on one side, ancient unexplained Japanese words are collated, examined, and compared with Ainu? The answer to this question must, in quite a number of cases, be in the affirmative, for there is certainly a root affinity in some of these relics, instances of which will be given later on.

As regards Japanese, in the year 1868 Mr. Edward Harper Parker of China wrote a paper on the relationship of Chinese with ancient Japanese, the object of which was to show “before Chinese was imported into Japanese, (1) directly, and (2) indirectly, through Corea—say before A. D. 1—the Japanese spoke a language the great majority of words in which came from the same language-stock as Chinese.”[1] And from anything appearing to the contrary be seems to have pretty well established his point. We must, however, presume to take off a few years from his estimate, for the oldest written books of Japan can carry us back no nearer to the source of time than the year 712 A. D., it being in this year that the Kojiki was committed to writing, the Nikongi following a few years later. Even linguistically speaking all before this time is pure oral tradition, and the only safe guides in such a matter as this are the written books.

That Chinese and therefore present Japanese are Turanian is, I believe, now admitted. In speaking of Chinese Prof. Max Muller says:[2]—“Taking Chinese for what it can hardly any longer be doubted that it is, viz. the earliest representative of Turanian speech,” etc. And again:[3]—“People wonder why students of language have not succeeded in establishing more than three families of speech—or rather two, for the Turanian can hardly be called a family, in the strict sense of that word, till it has been fully proved that Chinese forms the centre of the two Turanian branches, the North Turanian on one side, and the South Turanian on the other; that Chinese forms, in fact, the earliest settlement of that unsettled mass of speech, which, at a later stage, became more fixed and tradltional,—In the north, in Tungusic, Mongolic, Tartaric, and Finnic, and in the south, in Taic, Malaic, Bhotiya, and Talmulic.” And yet again, amid much more to the same effect our Author adds:[4]—“In the Turanian class, in which the original concentration was never so powerful as in the Aryan and Semitic families, we can still catch a glimpse of the natural growth of language, though confined within certain limits. The different settlements of this great floating mass of homogeneous speech do not show such definite marks of relationship as Hebrew and Arabic, Greek and Sanskrit, but only such sporadic coincidence and general structual similarities as can be explained by the admission of a primitive concentration, followed by a new period of independant growth. It would be wilful blindness not to recognise the definite and characteristic features which pervade the North Turanian languages: it would be impossible to explain the coincidences between Hungarian, Lapponian, Esthonlan, and Finnish, except on the supposition that there was a very early concentration of speech from which these dialects branched off. We see less clearly in the Turanian group, though I confess my surprise even here has always been, not that there should be so few, but that there should be even these relics, attesting a former community of these divergent streams of language. The point in which the South Turanian and North Turanian languages meet goes back as far as Chinese; for that Chinese is at the root of Mandshu and Mongolian as well as of Siamese and Tibetan becomes daily more apparent through the researches of Mr. Edkins and other Chinese scholars.”

But although the Japanese words advanced by Mr. Parker may be from the same language-stock as Chinese, yet no proof has been forthcoming to show that those ancient Japanese words, words which are now quite obsolete so far as the Japanese tongue is concerned, and which are from the same roots as Ainu, are of Chinese origin. Therefore although Chinese and that large and ever increasing proportion of Japanese which has been and is being confessedly borrowed from China may belong to the Turanian branch of language classification, this in no way proves Ainu to be so. Proofs of this must, it would seem, come from elsewhere if they are to come at all.

But to compare ancient Japanese and Ainu. It would indeed be very extraordinary were we not to find “sporadic coincidences” of resemblance between these two tongues seeing that one race has now almost displaced the other. For just as it is known that present day English is made up of fragments of ancient British, so it is only natural to expect to find Japanese, whatever its origin may be, containing fragments of Ainu,—the undoubted aboriginal language of this land. I will preface my list by reminding the Reader that all works whether Japanese or Foreign, and dating from A.D. 1730[5] down to the time of writing—which have any Ainu words and phrases in them clearly show that the Ainu tongue has suffered—or rather had suffered till within the last 30 or 40 years—little or no radical change since those books were published. It should also be remembered that many old Japanese place-names in various parts of Japan prove to be, when stripped of the misleading Chinese characters in which they are written, living, present day, matter of fact, Ainu words. A list of place-names with their derivations and meanings will be found in a Brochure given later.

The following is a short list of old Japanese[6] and Ainu words carrying the same radical elements in them.

japanese. ainu.
A, “I.” A, “I.” Also the verb of existence; “is”; “am.”
A, “Net.” ya, “a net.”
A, “A foot.” A, “a tine”; “prong of a fork.”
Abai, “A shield.” Apa-kikkara, “to defend.”
Abame, “To despise.” Apange, “To despise.” The root of this word is pan, “insipid.”
Ae-mono, “food eaten with rice.” Ae-p, “food.” The roots are, e “to eat,” a, a passive participle, p, “thing.” Hence a-e-p, food. P is the equivalent of mono.
Aka, “the holy water of the Buddhists.” Aka and Wakka, ordinary “drinking water.”

Speaking of water reminds the author that Chief Penri of Piratori once desired to claim relationship because Eng., “water” and Ainu wakka were so much alike. But when informed that ship was chip, “bone,” pone, “two,” tu, and “three,” re, he was quite certain we were brothers. With regard to the use of aka for “water,” however, it should be remarked that in Saghalien the Ainu usually employ the word pe, and aka is nearly obsolete. Still, that the word is of very ancient use among the Ainu on the Siberian continent is proved by Dobrotvorsky who gives the word akasannai as the name of “rivulet” there. He does not, however, venture to show the derivation of the name. Yet in plain, matter of fact, present day Ainu, aka-san-nai is simply “the valley with water running down it.” It corresponds to Waka-sa of the South of Japan and Wakka-o-nai of Yezo.

japanese. ainu.
Azuki, “a kind of small red bean.” Antuki, A kind of small red bean.” The root seems to be tuk, “to sprout.” Hence it would mean “the sprouter.”
Beko, “ox”; “cow.” Beko or Peko. Bek is the Ainu onomatopœa for the “lowing” of oxen. O means to “hold”; “to carry.” The Ainu verb “to low” is Bekse, se by itself meaning “to make a noise.”
Bachi, “punishment sent by heaven.” Pa, pachi, pashiko, “punishment inflicted by gods or demons.”

The Ainu word pa, “punishment” is particularly interesting when taken in connection with Latin poena and punis and this again with the Sanscrit pu[7] and pa. The analogy becomes more striking and complete when it is remembered that the Ainu word pa means “sin” as well as “punishment.” It also occurs in the word katpak, “sins,” but lit: “heart punishment.”

japanese. ainu.
Neko, “cat.” Meko, “cat.” Mek is the onomatopœa for the “mew” of a cat, as bek is for the “low” of oxen. As bekse is “to low,” so mekse is “to mew.”
Ikashi, “prosperous”; “to be in plenty.” Ikashima, “over”; “plus”; “too much”; “superabundant.” From i, an intensifying root, and kashi whose root is ka, “over”; “top.” The same root will be found in the word kamui, “god.”
Inori, “prayer.” Inonno, “prayer.” Inonno-itak, “to pray.”
Inoti, “life.” Inotu, “life.” From the root isu or ishu, “to live,” “living.”
Ipi, “food.” Ep, “food”; ibe, “to eat.” The roots are e, “eat”; and pe, article, “thing.”
Iro, “colour.” Iroho, “colour.”
Iso, “the sea-shore.” Iso, “a rock off the sea-coast.” Note also so, a “bare rock,” a “boulder,” a “waterfall.”
Kamu, “god.” Kamui, “god.” The root of this word is ka, “over”; “above,” “top.” It is like super and ὑπέρ. Ka occurs in kando, “heaven”; “the skies” and in many words where the sense of super is to be conveyed. Kamu means “to cover,” in Ainu and to “over-shadow.” The final i is a substantivizing particle implying “person” or “thing,” “he,” “she,” or “it.” Here, according to the genius of the language and the psychological conception of Ainu theological thought kamui means “he who covers” or “he who over-shadows”; thus reminding as of Jupiter and Οὑρανοσ.[8]
Iwa, “a rock.” Iwa, “land as opposed to rivers and lakes.”
Iwai, “a festive celebration. Iwai, “a festive celebration of any kind.”
Kasa, “a hat.” Kasa, “a hat.” Kasa-tupep, “hat strings.”
Keire, “shoes.” This word is still used in the Nambu District by Japanese. Keire, “shoes and sandles whether made of skin or bark.” This word is said by the Ainu to be Ainu, and by the Japanese, Japanese.
Kura,
Kuro,
Kuru
“black”; “dark.”
Kunne,
Kurokok,
Ekureok,
“black”; “dark;” Kuru, “a cloud.”

Makiri “a knife.” This word is much used in the Nambu Province. But the Ainu have no other word for “knife” of the kind intended. It is the common word for knife in Saghalien Island.

japanese. ainu.
Nobori, “a hill.” Nupuri, “a mountain.” There is no other word in Ainu by which a great mountain can be designated. The roots of this word are nup, “plain,” u, a plural particle, and ri “high.” Nupuri may therefore mean either, “cast up from the plains”; or “cast up plains.”
Nomi, “to worship.” Nomi, “to offer libations.”
Nu, “to be.” Ne, “is.”
Nuru, “to paint.” Nore, “to paint.”
Nusa, anciently, “pieces of silk or paper or bamboo used as offering to the gods.” Nusa, “offerings of whittled sticks and shavings made to the gods and demons.” Nusa is a plural word the singular of which is inao. Inao is from the root ina, “a message,” “a prayer”; and o, “to bear.” Hence inao is simply a “message” or “request “bearer,” nusa being its plural form.[9]
Ogi, “a fan.” Anki; Anunki; Aungi, “a fan.” Translated literally an-un-ki, means “to do unto,” probably referring to the process of drawing the fan to ones'self. Both forms of the word are used in both Yezo and Saghalien.
Omushi, “the place where the Emperor sits.” Om-ushi;[10] “a seat.” The roots are om, the “thighs,” and ushi, “a putting place.”
Pa, “thing”; “an article.” Pe or Be, “thing”; “an article.”
Pakaru, “to weigh.” Pakari, “to weigh.”
Parara, “to scatter.” Parara, “to make another scatter”; Parase, v.i. “to scatter.” The root is para, “broad”; “spread out.”
Pasi, “chop-sticks.” Pasui or Pashui, “tongs.” There are grounds for believing that the u is of a dual or plural signification.
Pasu, “to run.” Pash, v.i. “to run.”
Sa,
Sane,
“true.”
So,
Son,
Sone,
“true.”
Saru, “a monkey.” Saro, “a monkey.” From sara, “a tail”; and o, “to bear”; hence Saro means “having a tail” in Ainu. Compare also beko and meko.
Sippo, “salt.” Shippo, “salt.”
So-shi, “a sheet of paper.” So-shi, “a layer of bark,” strata of rock or earth.
Tama, “the soul.” Rama, ramat, and ramachi, the soul. This word finds its root in ram, ramu, “the heart”; “the understanding” of a being.
U, “a cormorant.” U-riri, “a cormorant.”
Uku, “to receive.” Uk, (sing), uina (pl), to take; to receive.
Wappa, “a boy”; (used in scolding). Wappo, “a young child,” “boy” or “girl.”
Warabe, “a child,” either “boy or girl.” Warapo, “a child,” either “boy” or “or girl.”

An analysis of words, such as those above given, (and others might be produced were it necessary), go to prove a very close connection between some parts of ancient Japanese and present Ainu speech. No doubt the two races are quite distinct in so far as physical aspect is concerned, allowing of course for that admixture which has been going on from time immemorial through marriage and concubinage. The Ainu have never indeed regarded the Japanese as of the same stock as themselves. Indeed, they know them as Samorun-guru, i.e. "Siamese" only. With how much truth, who will now tell us? It is also interesting to remark in this connection that the Ainu distinguish themselves from the Mongolian and Malay type of the human race by calling the latter Oyashikpuikotcha utara, “persons having a different class of eye-socket.” In speaking of men of their own race and cast of feature they say Shineshikpuikotcha utara, “people of the same eye-socket.” And just as the ancient Hebrew would say, “thou art bone of my bone,” and the Arab “thou art eye of my eye” when they wanted to say “you are the same as I am,” so an Ainu says to-day “you are of the same eye-socket as I," when he desires to say, “you and I are of the same family” or “descent.”

But does the close resemblance between some of the words found in ancient Japanese and Ainu vocabulary tend to unify or in any way prove the two races to have been originally one? The reply is “yes” and “no.” In the sense now generally meant by races being one, the verdict must, I think, be “no,” certainly. If, however, we go back far enough,—if, for example, we travel back to the time of the confusion of tongues,—to the time when people were fewer and the continents as now found not existing—we may reply, “yes.” Let us take an example by way of illustrating what is here meant. Ford, in his Handbook for travellers in Spain, tells us that there is a decided element of Sanscrit in Basque, but Max Müller says that Basque is not an Aryan language. So also, then, the few words advanced above, though originally of a common stock language, prove very little as to Ainu and pure Japanese being one as a whole. But there is this to be remembered, Japanese as now known is of Turanian descent, i.e. taking Chinese as the centre of the Turanian stock of language. But the old Japanese words given above as related to Ainu, have not yet been proved to be connected with Chinese whatever their common origin may have been. By means of Chinese therefore, in so far as those examples are concerned, old Japanese and present Ainu are not proven to be Turanian though they are of a common stock.



  1. Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, vol. xv., page 13 et seq.
  2. Introduction to the Science of Religion, page 155.
  3. Ibid., page 160.
  4. Introduction to the Science of Religion, page 162.
  5. Der Word-und Destliche Theil von Europa und Asia by Philipp Johanu von Strachlenberg, Stockholm.
  6. The authorities for the ancient and obsolete Japanese words are “List of Ancient Japanese words by Chamberlain and Ueda; Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan. Vol. XVI. Part. III. Also Hepburn’s and other Japanese–English Dictionaries.
  7. Compare Chips from a German workshop Vol. II. page 254.
  8. Cpf. Chips from a German workshop Vol. II. page 65.
  9. See the Ainu and their Folklore Cpts. IX.–XII.
  10. Compare also momo Jap. “thighs.”