Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've heard a friend say that the Ainu word for every part of the human body is monosyllabic, and that all words in Ainu are made up of the syllables from those words. Is either claim true?

share|improve this question
I don't know about them being monosyllabic (although I'd say it's very unlikely to be true), the statement about all words being made up from body parts is simply to good to be true - it's on the same level as Inuits have 200+ words for snow. – blutorange Sep 20 '13 at 12:44
This would be better fitted for Ainu stackexchange. – Jesse Good Sep 20 '13 at 12:47
Also, here is a dic of the Uraka Ainu dialect: city.hokkai.or.jp/~ayaedu/udic/udic0.html We find テケヘ (tekehe, hand), アシケペチ(ashikepechi, toe), エトップ (etoppu, hair), カンカン (kankan, bowel). Even allowing for a non-faithful representation of the actual pronunciation, this would seem to disprove the hypothesis. On the same domain, we also find that askepet;askepecihi is leg in the Saru dialect. See also archive.org/details/ainuenglishjapan00batcuoft – blutorange Sep 20 '13 at 13:06
We don't seem to have any meta discussion about whether Ainu is on-topic or not. Of course, Ainu is a completely separate language, so at first glance it appears to be entirely off-topic, but I also doubt there'll ever be an Ainu SE site, and it's unlikely we'll see many questions about Ainu... We could decide as a community that these questions are okay. So I'll leave it open and see whether the community decides to close it... – snailplane Sep 20 '13 at 13:26
Is there a "dead languages" SE site? – istrasci Sep 20 '13 at 14:47
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I know nothing about Ainu, but according to "A talking dictionary of Ainu" there are a number of multisyllabic words for parts of the body, including

Kema; chikiri.


The dictionary includes audio files for the pronunciation of each word, which I have linked to in the words above.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.