Teruyo is a restauranteur in Tokyo and activist from the Ainu culture, an indigenous community of northern Japan. She’s fighting for the survival of her mother tongue, which is spoken at varying levels of fluency by an unknown number of people. Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Ainu speakers faced harsh persecution by the state, with legislation forbidding their language’s use in the public sphere, including education. As a consequence, only 10 native speakers remain.
However, while the Ainu language was pushed to the brink of extinction, the Ainu people have since launched a lively revivalist movement, especially among younger generations. As a result, L2 speakers are on the rise, and an Ainu-language magazine has been in circulation since 1997. Nonetheless, the movement receives little support from the Japanese government.
Today, there are more than 3,000 language communities facing a similarly precarious future, pushing back against centuries of repression and marginalization. We’re building tools to help language activists like Teruyo document, share, and sustain their ways of speaking.
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Thank you, tangkyu, 御拝ど, takk fyri, +7000 more :)