Drops is elated to introduce our latest language course--Ainu in partnership with UN-proclaimed 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019).
Ainu, a critically endangered, indigenous language in Northern Japan, is a language with only about 300 speakers. Traditionally, the spoken Ainu language has been passed down from parents to children and the written language uses the Japanese writing system katakana.
Ainu is an indigenous language native to Hokkaido, one of Japan’s many islands. Earlier this year, Japan enacted a new bill to officially recognize the Ainu people of Hokkaido as an indigenous people of Japan. This bill also includes provisions to protect and support the Ainu culture, people and language.
Drops has made it a continued priority to add endangered and indigenous languages including Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, and now--Ainu. The decision to digitize endangered and indigenous languages is complex, but languages carry a cultural and historical significance that the world can’t afford to lose. Despite this, every two weeks another language goes extinct. And with the addition of the Ainu language to Drops, it’s our hope to support this incredible language.
If you’re interested in an introduction to Ainu, Drops offers you the chance to tap, swipe, and play your way to learning the more than 250 words and phrases in Ainu in just 5-minutes a day as a part of a customized learning experience.
The development of our Ainu language course took over 6 months. It was a joint effort between Drops, IYIL2019 and the Center for Ainu & Indigenous Studies at Hokkaido University, the only national research institution specializing in Ainu studies.
We traveled to Japan to work with the Center and ensure Ainu is accurately represented in the app. We also worked closely with translator Associate Professor Jirota Kitahara of Hokkaido University and voiceover talent, certified Ainu language instructor, Kenyu Yamamaru, to offer 211 Ainu expressions in 14 topics and 5 categories.
In addition to helping new learners build a foundation in the Ainu language, Drops’ Ainu course also serves to assist the transmission of and efforts to support the language.
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