An Ainu–English–Japanese Dictionary/Chapter VI

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The adjective now undergoes no declension or change to express either case, gender, or comparison, or to point out its relation to other words in a sentence. They may be conveniently classed under two heads, viz, simple and compound.


The simple adjectives end in a variety of ways, as for instance in ai, ak, chi, ka, m, n, p, ra, re, ri, ro, ru, sh, te, tok, Thus:—

Hekai, “old”
Shisak, “sweet.”
Ram, “law.”
Retara, “white.”
Poro, “large.”
Ratchi, “gentle.”
Pirika, “good.”
Pon; “little.”
Shiretok, “beautiful.”

The compound adjectives end in an, koro, ne, nei, o, sak, tek, un, ush. Thus:—

Kera an, “sweet.”
Haro koro, “fat.”
Ashkanne, “clean.”
Wayashnu, “wise.”
Ki-o, “lousy.”
Ramu-sak, “foolish.”
Nuchaktek, “merry.”
Paro-un, “eloquent.”
Kem-ush, “bloody.”

Other adjectives appear to be transitive verbs rendered intransitive by prefixing shi to them, which particle gives them a reflexive force. Thus:—

Maka, “to open.” Shimaka, “opened;” “cleared away.”
Noye, “to twist.” Shinoye, “twisted.”
Pirasa, “to spread out.” Shipirasa, “spread out.”

Some adjectives are simply transitive verbs rendered into the passive voice or past tense by having the particle chi prefixed to them. Thus:—

Ama, “to place.” Chiama, “placed.”
Kuba, “to bite.” Chikuba, “bitten.”
Pereba, “to cleave.” Chipereba, “cleft.”
Tereke, “to jump.” Chitereke, “jumped.”
Ye, “to say.” Chiye, “spoken.”

Adjectives may be made plural if necessary by suffixing the ordinary plural particle pa to them. Thus:—

singular. plural.
Pirika, “good,” Pirikapa, “good.”
Wen, “bad,” Wenpa, “bad.”
Pon, “small,” Ponpa, “small.”
Harokoro, “fat,” Harokoropa, “fat.”

The comparative and superlative degrees of adjectives are not so extensively used as in English, the meaning being often left to be gathered from the context; but should it be necessary to be explicit, the comparative degree is formed by placing the word naa, “yet; “more,” and the superlative by placing, iyotta, “most” before the positive degree; e.g.

positive. comparative. superlative.
Pirika, “good,” Naa pirika, “better.” Iyotta pirika, “best.”
Pon, “small,” Naa pon, “smaller.” Iyotta pon, “smallest.”

“The comparative with “than” may be expressed in six different ways:—(a) with the word akkari; (b) with akkari and easkka; (c) with akkari and eitasa; (d) with akkari and mashkinno; (e) with akkari and naa; (f) with kasu no. One illustration of each method is here given with an example.

(a). The comparative with akkari. Akkari originally means “to surpass,” and may be translated by “than;” e.g. E akkari, ku nitan ruwe ne, “I am faster than you” (lit. than you, I go fast.)

(b). The comparative with akkari and eashka. Eashka means “very,” “more,” e.g. Ta akkari rep anak ne eashka poro ruwe ne; “the sea is greater than the land” (lit. than the land, the sea is more great.)

(c). The comparative with akkari and eitasa. Eitasa means “excess”:—

Toan kotan akkari, tan kotan anak ne eitasa hange no an kotan ne ruwe ne,” this village is nearer than that” (lit. than that village, this village is a nearer village.)

(d). The comparative with akkari and mashkinno. Mashkinno means “surpassingly”; e.g.

Umma akkari, isepo mashkinno nitan ruwe ne, “a hare is swifter than a horse” (lit. than a horse, a hare is surpassingly swift of foot.)

(e). The comparative with akkari and naa; e.g.

En akkari, eani naa shiwende ruwe ne. “you are a slower walker than I” (lit. than me, you go more slowly).

(f). The comparative with kasu no. Kasu no means “surpassing,” e.g.

En kasu no, e ri ruwe ne, “you are taller than I (lit. surpassing me, you are tall.)


The demonstrative articles “this,” “that,” “these” and “those,” are as follows:—

singular. plural.
Ta an or tan, “this.”

Nei a, “that.”

Nei an, “that,”
(a short distance off.)

To an, “that,”
(a good distance off.)

Tan okai, “these.”

Nei okai, “those.”
(a short distance off.)

To an okai, “those.”
(a good distance off.)

The singular form of these adjectives may be prefixed to plural nouns; but the plural forms can never be placed before singular nouns. The reason is that okai is really a plural verb meaning “to dwell at” or “be in” a place. It is the plural form of an, “to be.”


When the particle e is prefixed to certain adjectives it has the power of changing them into verbs; e.g.

adjectives. verbs.
Hapuru, “soft.” E hapuru, “to be unable to endure.”
Nishte, “hard.” E nishte, “to be able to endure.”
Some adjectives, by taking no after them, become adverbs; e.g.
adjectives. adverbs.
Ashiri, “new.” Ashin’no, “newly.”
Son, “true.” Sonno, “truly.”

A few adjectives become adverbs by taking the word tara after them; e.g.

adjectives. adverbs.
Moire, “slow.” Moire-tara, “slowly.”
Ratchi, “gentle.” Ratchi-tara, “gently.”

When the letter p is suffixed to some of the simple adjectives which end in a, e, i, or o, or to any of the adjectives compounded with ne or nu, they become nouns, thus:—

adjectives. nouns.
Atomte, “neat.” Atomtep, “a neat thing.”
Ichakkere, “dirty.” Ichakkerep, “a dirty thing.”
A-ekatnu, “delicious.” A-ekatnup, “a delicious thing.”
Ashkanne, “clean.” Ashkannep, “a clean thing.”

The letter p, which is here compounded with the adjectives, is a contraction of pe “a thing.” This should be carefully borne in mind lest, in construing, mistakes should arise. The p converts the adjective to which it is attached, into a concrete, not into an abstract, noun. Thus kaparap is not “thinness,” but “a thin thing;” and porop is not “largeness,” but “a large thing;” nor is wayashnup “wisdom,” but “a wise person” or “thing.”

As the other adjectives, namely a few of the simple, and all of the remaining compound adjectives, are incapable of taking the contracted form p after them, they are followed by the word in full, that is, pe softened into be, thus:—

Heikabe, “an old person.”
Kumi-ushbe, “a mouldy thing.”
Paro unbe, “an eloquent person.”
Sakanramkorobe, “a quarrelsome person.”
Tum sakbe, “a weak thing.”