Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading and Language Learning

Living in Holland, the Aspiring Polyglot has been forced to take on Dutch. But how to build one's skills? She gave up on children's books and has been reading grown-up books, but is this the way to go?

I, myself, have been picking at Uzbek, and fantasize about finding a children's story or two - something nice and easy - until I remember my first attempts at children's stories in other languages. While beginning readers (See Dick run?) may have some nice, elementary structures and basic vocabulary put into a readily digestible form, the typical children's book is a mess, using short idiomatic sentences that work nicely with a well acculturated child but terribly for a non-native who can conjugate the basic verbs (which the child can't) but has a limited command of idioms, especially those used in transitional baby talk.

If you're reading a cognate language, or even a language where you've got a couple hundred words of vocabulary, I think you're better off with a grown-up short news article (on an everyday topic) or some such thing. The language is more likely conventional, rather than creative, and it's likely to be in a form where you can guess enough at what should be coming next that you can connect dots you wouldn't otherwise.

The real killer with children's books is that since they're addressed to native speakers, they assume knowledge both of the language and of the things one expects a child in the culture to talk about. And they fly off in different directions to match that mindset of a child taking in and mentally organizing the world. If you're learning the language of a society that takes its children's education seriously and you can read the children's books, you've got a very fine handle on the language. If you're interested in, say, Tibet, follow the child's lead by reading about what interests you. That way you'll keep reading long enough to - taking a phrase from an earlier post - overlearn your reading skills and the vocabulary for things you'd be interested in talking about.

For my part, I'm reading short stories (and listening to them) from the University of Washington. And I'm picking through the lyrics for my favorite songs that I've found at (Plus my Talk-Now Uzbek just arrived and I've learned some new vocabulary, but mostly everyday stuff that doesn't come up in the other stuff - nobody sings about their new belt and shirt or where you can buy some toothpaste).

Friday, October 27, 2006

Overlearning - You know it, but do you know it?

Polyglottery has been reading up on theory again and has found some nice bits on overlearning. Be sure to check out the original article. Good excerpt:
We tend to get to the level of awareness, then we get tired of what we are practicing. Awareness is the level where we can recognize the phrase or pattern or word sequence. But to get to the point of really knowing (commanding automatically) that bit of language, the learner must push on to the level of overlearning.
This point is key, for nothing bogs down the self-teaching language learner more in the long run than the failure to master fundamentals before moving on to more advanced materials.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It says I'm one of a kind!

for which many are doubtless grateful.
LogoThere is:
person with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

via Omniglot

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Languages living and dead

Omniglot reports that Coptic, long thought dead anyway, is now taking its last gasps. Latin, of course, breathed its last a long time ago. One unfortunate side effect of this, of course, is that we tend to teach dead languages differently from living ones. While Assimil teaches Latin like a language for chatter, for example, 90% of what you find on Latin is linguistic embalming fluid, designed to preserve the corpse, not to re-animate it. If we want to sustain dying languages or learn dead ones, they need to be treated as vehicles for communicating living thoughts - thoughts of our own - rather than as tools for getting at the ideas of dead guys. So somebody call the Pimsleur guys while we've still got a few native speakers to record the lessons for Coptic. And when are we going to get Pimsleur Latin? That would be muy cool!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Language Acquisition through Pronunciation II

I have been reading Uzbek around 20 minutes a day since my last post on this. Not the finest dedication, but I'm finding it helping. I intend, one of these days, to find a language I haven't studied and try this method from scratch. However, as I noted when I started
Any serious language student works with multiple tools, both for reinforcement and to see the languages from different perspectives.
I doubt if we've got a silver bullet here, simply because I'm dubious about one-size-fits-all methods for language learning in general. But I do think this is a good tool to add to your language toolbox, particularly if you're having trouble making phrases or structures you understand in theory come out in spoken form in practice.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Language Acquisition Through Pronunciation?

Polyglottery pointed to a piece the other day about a Chinese man who learned English by pronouncing it out loud. A lot. I thought it sounded like a neat idea and tried it with an Uzbek manual. Now I can say "Siz bilan tanishganimdan khursantman" and know exactly why it means "Pleased to meet you." Before, I could neither pronounce the damn thing nor remember it, much less figure out what was happening after the "tani-" part. About the tenth time I read a sentence with the main elements in place, I realized that "korushguncha," "tanishganimdan" and "ko'rganimdan" all had common elements that meant something to me, just not in a way I had previously understood. Since then, I've had a few other revelations about just how far the whole agglutinating thing can go and other phrases of ungodly lengths have also revealed themselves to be both perfectly comprehensible and elegantly logical.

It is my guess that you do need to know a little about what is going on with the language and with the meaning of what you are saying for this to work. Still, in trying the exercise, I was surprised by how much Uzbek I knew that I didn't know I knew and didn't know how to make use of. It seems like such a great idea that you'd think someone would have tried it before...
...lisez d'abord le texte latin, phrase par phrase; comparez-le, mot par mot, avec la prononciation, puis avec le texte français. Relisez ensuite le texte latin à haute voix.

Arrivé au bout de la leçon, relisez encore une fois le texte latin, toujours à haute voix... Si vous avez dû trop souvent vous arrêter, n'hésitez pas à recommencer toute la lecture, autant de fois qu'il le faudra pour être complètement familiarisé avec le texte...

...first read the Latin text, sentence by sentence, compare it, word by word with the pronunciation, then with the French text. Re-read the Latin text aloud.

At the end of the lesson, re-read the Latin text one more time, again aloud... If you have to stop too often, do not hesitate to do the whole reading from the beginning, as many times as necessary to become completely familiar with the text. [their bold, my translation].
You're reading here about the old-style Assimil method. The quote is from the introduction to le latin sans peine. In addition to the Uzbek experiment, last night, I also did the first two lessons from this book. This time I did them the proper way. The last time I didn't, and I didn't get too far either. But now I know such useful phrases as "I am a mailman" (tabellarius sum) and "Please give me a cup of coffee" (da, quaeso, poculum kaffei). I'm poking a little fun here, but there is something to be said for what you might call the sound it out, speak it out method. If you can't get your head around a new piece of language - a new phrase, a long word, or just some everyday language that won't stick - why not try getting your mouth around it first and see where that takes you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

PDQ Italian and teaching oneself Uzbek

I spent a good part of the weekend playing with the PDQ Italian course. What to say? It's slow, and repetitive. The exercises are slow and repetitive. And yet the narrators sort of keep it moving along. In short, it's perfect for an absolute beginner. If you've always wanted to learn Italian but know nothing beyond "Ciao" and "Buongiorno," this is a pretty good course. I ordered the equivalent for Arabic, which, being a harder language, warrants the extra drilling.

The PDQ courses come with a book and four CDs. They used to be stocked by Transparent Language, though they're Linguaphone courses. However, I bought my courses in Transparent's "eliminating inventory" special, so interested parties will have to check out other outlets.

I also put in a good bit of time with Uzbek. Now that I've posted my mini-course, I've started taking it. It's not too bad, but I wish there were a Michel Thomas version, or a Pimsleur version. At least TalkNow Uzbek appears to be being re-released (as of 10/21 according to Amazon). And I am glad to see that a Pimsleur Turkish is on the way, at least - and long overdue. But I suppose some of the lure of exoticism is gone if there are too many resources available, so Uzbek (and even Turkish) wouldn't be interesting if there were more and better ways to learn them.

Anyway, for the curious, that Uzbek Mini-Course is based here. It won't teach perfect Uzbek, but should give English speakers some words and structures so that presented with real content or a better course there'll be something to build on. For my own personal excitement, last night I figured out "Menga shokolad muzqaymoq kerak" - "I need some chocolate ice cream." There might be a particle or ending missing someplace (I don't think so) but it should be adequate to communicate that important sentiment, which is what really matters. I rounded off the weekend language bit by going to the freezer and practicing my newfound knowledge while acquiring a bowl of ice cream, as it happens, so a satisfying weekend it was in the end. Hope yours was too.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Another weekend with language

Those scrolling down will find a mess of posts about Uzbek. If you go here, there's an organized post linking them into an Uzbek Mini-Course. This is a course for self-talk - finding things you can talk to yourself about to keep a new language circulating in your brain - not a traditional course. Take it as such. If you enjoy it (provided anyone is actually curious about Uzbek besides this girl who's way beyond me), that's great. If not, you don't have to read the whole thing. It's mainly there as an exercise in organizing my own notes from my latest efforts with the language.

In the mail, I just got PDQ Italian, with the hopes of refreshing and building on my limited skills with the language. I also have the Michel Thomas, but haven't gotten past disc 5 - always something else to work on. A little later, I'll be trying out the PDQ course and should toss up a note or two later. In the mean time, you can read about the best audio learning program available (Pimsleur) at Omniglot or see what Polyglottery has to say about Michel Thomas Italian and German. And the Aspiring Polyglot is posting more after her extended absence, including a link for a YouTube Georgian course!

Uzbek Vocabulary Test/Uzbek key

Give the English for the following words and phrases in Uzbek
The English answers are here.

1. Mushuk
2. It
3. Eshak
4. Ot
5. Maimun
6. To'ti qushi
7. Kaptar
8. Kalamush
9. Qo'y
10. Ayiq
11. Buqa
12. Sigir

1. Ona
2. Ota
3. Er
4. Khotin
5. Yigit
6. Qiz
7. O'g'il
8. Qiz
9. Aka
10. Uka
11. Opa
12. Singil

In the country
1. Qishloq
2. Cho'l
3. Ferma
4. Ko'l
5. Tog'
6. Daryo
7. Yo'l
8. Yer
9. Tosh
10. Toshqin
11. Tepa
12. Kharita

1. Tushunmoq
2. So'ramoq
3. Gapirmoq
4. Bormoq
5. Istamoq.
6. Yemoq
7. Ichmoq
8. Kelmoq
9. Bilmoq
10. Yopmoq
11. Ochmoq
12. Olmoq

1. Qora
2. Ko'k
3. Rang
4. Jigar
5. Jigarrang
6. Yashil
7. Sariq
8. To'q
9. To'q sariq
10. Qizil
11. Oq
12. Binafsha

Love songs
1. Qismat
2. Bag'ir
3. Osmon
4. Hayot
5. Umr
6. Aziz
7. Sevgi
8. Sevgili
9. Sevmoq
10. Jon
11. Orzu
12. Hayol

Expressions and Questions 1
1. Yakhshi
2. Ahvollar
3. Rahmat
4. Kayr
5. Mumkinmi?
6. Ha
7. Yoq
8. Kechirasiz
9. Ertaga
10. Qancha?
11. Nechta?
12. Nima?

Expressions and Questions 2
1. -mi?
2. -siz
3. -misiz?
4. Yakhshimisiz?
5. Ahvollar yakhshimi?
6. -cha
7. Ertagacha khayr
8. Bu
9. Bu nima?

Hotel Words
1. Mehmon
2. Hona
3. Khojathona
4. Mehmonhona
5. Karavot
6. Kalit
7. Arzon
8. Toza
9. Bir
10. Ikki
11. Kishi
12. Kishilik
13. Bir kishilik
14. Ikki kishilik

Parts of the Body
1. Yuz
2. Ko'z
3. Burun
4. Og'iz
5. Quloq
6. Qo'l
7. Barmoq
8. Badan
9. Ko'krak
10. Qorin
11. Oyoq

1. Non
2. Sir
3. Gamburger
4. Buterbrod
5. Sho'rva
6. Palov
7. Qatiq
8. Pomidor
9. Mo go'shti
10. Qo'y go'shti
11. Cho'chga go'shti

1. Arhitektor
2. Rassom
3. Doktor
4. Muhandis
5. Dehqon
6. Jurnalist
7. Advokat
8. Mehanik
9. Hodim
10. Olim
11. Sekretar
12. Student
13. Turist

Shopping and Services
1. Kasal
2. Kasalhona
3. Dori
4. Dorihona
5. Sartarash
6. Sartarashhona
7. Do'kon
8. Kitob
9. Kitob do'koni
10. Non do'koni
11. Sabzavot
12. Sabzavot do'koni
13. Go'sht
14. Go'sht do'koni
15. Gul
16. Gul do'koni
17. Magazin
18. Kiyim
19. Kiyim kechak magazini
20. Bozor

162 items

Uzbek Vocabulary Test/English key

Give the Uzbek for the following English words and phrases.
The Uzbek can be found here.

1. Cat
2. Dog
3. Donkey
4. Horse
5. Monkey
6. Parrot
7. Pigeon
8. Rat
9. Sheep
10. Bear
11. Bull
12. Cow

1. Mother
2. Father
3. Husband
4. Wife
5. Boyfriend
6. Girlfriend
7. Son
8. Daughter
9. Older brother
10. Younger brother
11. Older sister
12. Younger sister

In the country
1. Village
2. Desert
3. Farm
4. Lake
5. Mountain
6. River
7. Road
8. Land
9. Rock
10. Rockslide
11. Hill
12. Map

1. Understand
2. Ask
3. Speak
4. Go
5. Desire
6. Eat
7. Drink
8. Come
9. Know
10. Close
11. Open
12. Get

1. Black
2. Blue
3. Color
4. Liver
5. Brown
6. Green
7. Yellow
8. Dark
9. Orange
10. Red
11. White
12. Purple

Love songs
1. Fate
2. Soul/liver
3. Heaven
4. Life
5. Life's journey
6. Dear
7. Love
8. Darling
9. To love
10. Soul
11. Dream/desire
12. Fancy/desire

Expressions and Questions 1
1. Good
2. Things
3. Thanks
4. Bye
5. May I?
6. Yes
7. No
8. Excuse me
9. Tomorrow
10. How much?
11. How many?
12. What?

Expressions and Questions 2
1. ?
2. you
3. are you?
4. Are you good?
5. Things are good?
6. until
7. Until tomorrow
8. This
9. What is this?

Hotel words
1. Guest
2. Room
3. Bathroom
4. Hotel
5. Bed
6. Key
7. Cheap
8. Clean
9. One
10. Two
11. Person
12. Per person
13. Single (person)
14. Double (person)

Parts of the Body
1. Face
2. Eye
3. Nose
4. Mouth
5. Ear
6. Arm/Hand
7. Finger
8. Body
9. Chest
10. Stomach
11. Leg/Foot

1. Bread
2. Cheese
3. Hamburger
4. Sandwich
5. Soup
6. Meal
7. Yogurt
8. Tomato
9. Beef
10. Lamb
11. Pork

1. Architecht
2. Artist
3. Doctor
4. Engineer
5. Farmer
6. Journalist
7. Lawyer
8. Mechanic
9. Office worker
10. Scientist
11. Secretary
12. Student
13. Tourist

Shopping and Services
1. Sick
2. Hospital
3. Drug
4. Pharmacy
5. Hairdresser
6. Barbershop
7. Store
8. Book
9. Bookstore
10. Bakery
11. Vegetable
12. Grocery
13. Meat
14. Butcher shop
15. Flower
16. Flower shop
17. Shop
18. Clothes
19. Clothing store
20. Market

162 items

Friday, October 13, 2006

Shopping and Services in Uzbek

Note: Mnemonics are only given for new items.

Hona: Room
Mehmon: Guest - Mehmonhona: Hotel
Khojat: Necessary - Khojathona - Restroom
Osh: Pilav - Oshhona: Restaurant
Kasal: Sick - Kasalhona: Hospital
The kasalhona is a castle for the sick - Kasalhona.
Dori: Drug - Dorihona: Pharmacy
I adore the pharmacy - Dorihona.
Sartarash: Hairdresser - Sartarashhona: Barber shop
Look up sartorial.

Do'kon: Store
The store door can open or close - Do'kon.
Kitob: Book - Kitob do'koni: Bookstore
The key ta books is buying them at the kitab do'koni.
Non: Bread - Non do'koni: Bakery
Sabzavot: Vegetable - Sabzavot do'koni: Grocery
You're on your own.
Go'sht: Meat - Go'sht do'koni: Butcher shop
There's a ghost in the go'sht do'koni!
Gul: Flower - Gul do'koni: Flower shop
All the girls love flowers - Gul.

Magazin: Shop
I bought a magazine at the magazin.
Kiyim: Clothes - Kiyim-kechak magazini: Clothes shop
I've the got the key i' my clothes coat-check - Kiyim-kechak

Bozor: Market (bazaar)

Professions in Uzbek

Men... -man. I am ...

Arhitektor - Architect
Rassom - Artist
I'd pay a king's ransom to become an artist. Rassom.
Doktor - Doctor
Muhandis - Engineer
You hand dis to the engineer. Muhandis.
Dehqon. Farmer.
The whole day can be used by a farmer planting crops. Dehqon.
Jurnalist - Journalist
Advokat - Lawyer
A lawyer is your advocate in court. Advokat.
Mehanik - Mechanic
Hodim - Office worker
Who deems office work important? Hodim.
Olim - Scientist
All I'm saying, is I'm a scientist. Olim.
Sekretar - Secretary
Student - Student
Turist - Tourist

Food in Uzbek

Non - Bread - Is there any food? None but bread. Non.
Sir - Cheese - Some cheese, sir? Thank you. Sir.
Gamburger - Hamburger
Buterbrod - Sandwich - I'll have butter and bread for my sandwich. Buterbrod.
Sho'rva - Soup - There's sherbet in my soup! Sho'rva.
Palov - Rice-based meal - I love my pilaf meal. Palov.
Qatiq - Yogurt - Don't be catty, eat your yogurt. Qatiq.
Pomidor - Tomato - There's a tomato by the palmy door. Pomidor.
Mol go'shti - Beef - There's a mole on this beef! Mol go'shti.
Qo'y go'shti - Lamb - Don't be coy about sharing your lamb. Qo'y go'shti.
Cho'chga go'shti - I went to church for pork. Cho'chga go'shti.

Parts of the Body in Uzbek

Yuz - Face - What's that look on yoose face? Yuz.
Ko'z - Eye - I see all that oc-curz before mine eyes. Ko'z.
Burun - Nose - Don't be so flattering. You'll get a brown nose. Burun.
Og'iz - Mouth - Oh, is that your mouth? Og'iz.
Quloq - Ear - My clock has ears! - Quloq.

Qo'l - Arm - That's a cool tatoo on your arm. Qo'l.
Qo'l - Hand - Cool! It goes all the way to your hand! Qo'l.
Barmoq - Finger - Point your finger and mock the bar. Barmoq.
Badan - Body - She's got quite a bod on her! Badan.
Ko'krak - Chest - I have a cookie rack on my chest! Ko'krak.
Qorin - Stomach - It's Corinne's stomach. Qorin.
Oyoq - Leg - O yuck, I got something on my leg. Oyoq.
Oyoq - Foot - O yuck, it went all way to my foot. Oyoq.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Uzbek Music Under Siege

A while back, I wandered into and an entry on "three Uyghur girls from Uzbekistan" who turned out to be Shahrizoda. Since then, I've stumbled into, and a dozen or so videos on YouTube. Bottom line, there's a lot of cool Uzbek music. This gives us, among other things, one more reason to hate the despotic regime of Islam Karimov. A few months back, a number of artists, including some big enough that I recognize the names, even, were barred from publicly performing for being insufficiently Uzbek. Then they arrested a 66 year-old pop star from the 70's after his privately penned protest against the Andijon massacre became public (two people listening to it on a bus were turned in by a bus driver).

The good news about Uzbekistan is that its music, etc, indicate we are not looking at a country likely to join the Islamofascists anytime soon. The bad news is that's in part because it's still pretty close to being the Soviet Socialist Republic it once was. The aging pop star got three years house arrest today. It could have been worse. On the other hand, things could be a lot better.

The news is at the Long and Winding Road. Scroll the archives for more about cool Uzbek music and the threat it's under.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Self-Talk Uzbek Mini-Course

The following mini-course will not teach you Uzbek. But it should teach you how, as an English speaker, to start thinking in Uzbek so that serious language learning will go easier. Start with the Introduction, to get fair warning about the course's flaws. Then do the Mini-Course.

1. Introduction
2. Plurals in Uzbek
3. Indicating you want something
4. Finding out what is available or in the area
5. Where is...?
6. Adjectives in Uzbek
7. This and that/Here and there
8. Yes-No questions
9. Word-building
10. What and more Word-Building
11. A few more adjectives
12. Sentences you can now make in Uzbek

After you're done with the Mini-Course, you can do the Vocabulary. Then go back through the Mini-Course, this time making up your own sentences using the structures in the lessons with your newly learned vocabulary.

Vocabulary Mnemonics
1. Animals
2. Family
3. In the country
4. Verbs
5. Colors
6. Love song vocabulary
7. Expressions and questions
8. More expressions and questions
9. Hotel words
10. Parts of the Body
11. Food
12. Professions
13. Shopping and Services

Test yourself
English to Uzbek
Uzbek to English

Available (but not too highly recommended): 3 Uzbek lessons at the old languages site.

Also visit: Unilang's Uzbek lessons

Uzbek Hotel Words

The following items are helpful for talking about hotels:

Mehmon - Guest - My man, it's good you're my guest. Mehmon.
Hona - It's an honor to have this room. Hona.
Khojathona - Bathroom - you're on your own for this one. Khojathona.
Mehmonhona - Hotel - Guest room - Mehmonhona.
Karavot - Bed - I wore a cravat to bed. Karavot.
Kalit - Key - I need a Quality Key. Kalit.
Arzon - Cheap - Our zone is cheap! - Arzon.
Toza - Clean - I'm all clean-a, from my head-a to my toes-a. Toza.
Bir - One - I just want One Beer. Bir.
Ikki - Two - Two beers are icky! Ikki.
Kishi- Person - The key she has is personal. Kishi.
Kishilik - Per person - There's a personal-leak! - Kishilik.
Bir kishilik - Single person - One (beer) Per person (key-she-leak). Bir kishilik.
Ikki kishilik - Two person - Two (icky) Per person (key-she-leak). Ikki kishilik.

Bir kishilik hona - Single room
Ikki kishilik karavot - Double bed
Khojathonali hona - Room with a bath

More Uzbek Expressions and Questions

In this vocabulary set, where some structures are being built, it is necessary to learn some items and string together the associations, rather than each entry having a unique association.

-mi - ? - Are you questioning me? -mi?
-siz - you - It's you, sis. -siz.
-misiz? - are you? - Who are you? It's me, sis! -misiz?
Yakhshimisiz? - Are you good? - good (yak-she) are-you? - Yakhshimisiz?
Ahvollar yakhshimi? - Thing are good? - "Things" (awfuller) good ? - Ahvollar yakhshimi?
-cha - until - until you cha-cha - -cha.
Ertagacha khayr - Until tomorrow, bye - tomorrow (earth-ta-go)-until bye (higher) - Ertagacha khayr.
Bu - This - Wait'll you see this! Boo! - Bu.
Bu nima? - What's this? - This what (knee-ma) - Bu nima?

Uzbek Expressions and Questions 1

Yakhshi - Good - Which animal? Well, that yak-she's good! - Yakhshi.
Ahvollar - "Things" - "Things" are getting awfuller and awfuller. - Ahvollar.
Rahmat - Thanks - Thanks to Mat, we won! Rah, Mat! Rahmat.
Khayr - Bye - Bye, folks. I'm on to higher things. Khayr.
Mumkinmi? - May I? - May I have a pumpkin for me - Mumkinmi?
Ha - Yes - Ha! I told you, "Yes!" Ha.
Yoq - No - The joke's on you, the answer's "No!" Yoq.
Kechirasiz - Excuse me - Excuse me, can you catch yer siz? Kechirasiz.
Ertaga - Tomorrow - For the earth-ta-go round, wait for tomorrow. Ertaga.
Qancha? - How much? - Can't ya do more? How much? - Qancha?
Nechta? - How many? - How many did the deal net ya? - Nechta?
Nima? - What? - What's on your knee, ma? - Nima?

Uzbek Sentences

In this final lesson, we'll just look at a few sentences you can make now.

Qayerga boryapsiz? Where are you going?
Shaharga boryapman. I am going to town.
Shaharda yakhshi mehmonhona bor mi? In town, is there a good hotel?
Shaharda yakhshi mehmonhona bor - lekin qimmat. In town, there is a good hotel, but expensive.
Mehmonhona iflos mi? Is the hotel dirty?
Yoq, mehmonhona toza. No, the hotel is clean.
O'zbekchada bu nima? What is this in Uzbek?
O'zbekchada bu "gazeta". In Uzbek, that is a "gazeta".
Inglizchada bu nima? What is this in English?
Inglizchada bu "newspaper". In English, this is a "newspaper".
Gazeta yakhshi mi? Is the newspaper good?
Yoq, gazeta yomon. No, the newspaper is bad.
Menga yakhshi choy kerak. I need a good (cup of) tea.
Bu adres qayerda? Where is this address?
U adres uzoq. That address is far.
Oshhonada khojathona bor mi? Is there a restroom at the restaurant?
Yoq. No
Khojathona qaerda? Where is there a restroom?
Mehmonhonada. At the hotel.

With the words and phrasings you've learned in this little introduction to Uzbek, you can make these sentences and many more. A fair number are not, strictly speaking, grammatically correct. But they should lay the foundations for starting to communicate - and think - in Uzbek, so that you have a base from which to learn better Uzbek. By doing the vocabulary exercises for common objects and everyday phrases, you will be able to say a good deal quite well enough to start. I hope you've enjoyed this introduction to making sense of Uzbek as an English speaker and welcome constructive feedback to make it better.

More Uzbek Adjectives and New Sentences

In this lesson, we're going to add a few new adjectives:

katta: big
kichkina: small
yaqin: near
uzoq: far

shahar: city

Men yakhshi mehmonhona istayman.
I want a good hotel.
Shaharda yakhshi mehmonhona bor.
In the city there is a good hotel.
Bu mehmonhona uzoq mi?
Is this hotel far?
Yoq, mehmonhona yaqin.
No, the hotel is near.

Bu hona kichkina. Katta honalar bor mi?
This room is small. Are there big rooms?

More Uzbek Word-Building

A few words and one word-building will give us some more things to talk about:

nima: what

Bu nima? What is this?
O'zbekchada bu nima?
In Uzbek, what is this?

bor (go) - yap (-ing) - man ("I" word ending) = boryapman (I am going)

bor (go) - yap (-ing) - siz ("you" word ending) = boryapsiz (You are going)

Qa(y) (which) - yer (place) - ga (to/for) = Qayerga (to where)

Qayerga boryapsiz? To where are you going?
Oshhonaga boryapman. I am going to the restaurant.
Mehmonhonaga boryapman. I am going to the hotel.
Khojathonaga boryapman. I am going to the restroom.

Uzbek Word-building

Uzbek is an agglutinating language. That means that more than English, even more than German, it makes words and phrases by sticking (think "gluing") a bunch of meaning-units together. Here are a few examples we already know:

osh (pilav/meal) - hona (room) = restaurant
ol (take) - moqchi (will/want) - man ("I" word ending) = I want to take or I want
qa(y) (which) - yer (place) - da (at) = where (at)
men (I) - ga (toward/for) = for me

Let's stick a few more things together:
khojat (needful) - hona (room) = khojathona (restroom)
mehmon (guest) - hona (room) = mehmonhona (hotel)

o'zbek (Uzbek) - cha (language ending) - da (at) = o'zbekchada (in Uzbek)
ingliz (English) - cha (language ending) - da (at) = inglizchada (in English)

osh (pilav) - hona (room) - da (at) = oshhonada (at the restaurant)
osh (pilav) - hona (room) - ga (to/for) = oshhonaga (to the restaurant)

In the next lesson, we'll add a few new words and make some sentences with these. In the meantime, try to make your own.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yes/No Questions in Uzbek

"mi" makes a yes-no question.

ha-yes yoq-no

You have already seen:

Telefon bor mi?
Is there a telephone?
Ha, telefon bor.
Yes, there is a telephone.
Yoq, telefon yoq.
No, there is no telephone.

Gazeta yakhshi.
The newspaper is good.
Gazeta yakshi mi?
The newspaper is good?
Yoq, gazeta yomon.
No, the newspaper is bad.

Bu oshhona khimmat mi?
Is this restaurant expensive?
Ha, bu oshhona khimmat.
Yes, this restaurant is expensive.

U avtobus toza mi?
Is that bus clean?
Yoq, u avtobus iflos.
No, that bus is dirty.

This and That, Here and There in Uzbek

The words for this and that are "bu" and "u":

bu adres - this address
u gazeta - that newspaper

Bu adres qayerda?
Where is this address?
U oshhona khimmat.
That restaurant is expensive.

Qayerda is a three-part word:
Qay (which) yer (place) da (at)

buyerda - here
bu (this) yer (place) da (at)

uyerda - there
u (that) yer (place) da (at)

Buyerda telefon bor mi?
Here a telephone is? -
Is there a telephone here?

Uyerda yakhshi oshhona bor mi?
Is there a good restaurant there?

Adjectives in Uzbek

Adjectives in Uzbek go in front of the noun to modify or describe it. They come after to form "X is ..." sentences.

yakhshi - good
yomon - bad
arzon - cheap
khimmat - expensive
toza - clean
iflos - dirty

yakhshi gazeta
a good newspaper
Gazeta yakhshi.
The newspaper is good.

iflos hona
a dirty room
Hona iflos.
The room is dirty

Menga toza menyu kerak.
I need a clean menu.
Arzon oshhona qayerda?
Where is there a cheap restaurant?
Men yakhshi choy olmoqchiman.
I'll take a good (cup of) tea.
Telefon yomon.
The telephone is bad.

Where is the restaurant at? - in Uzbek

To ask where something is, you actually ask where it is at - qayerda:

... qayer?
... is at where?
Oshhona qayerda?
The restaurant is at where?
Telefon qayerda?
Where is the telephone?
Avtobus qaerda?
Where is the bus?

-Telefon bor mi?
-Telefon bor.
-Telefon qayerda?
Is there a telephone?
There is a telephone.
Where is the telephone.

Uzbek Is there...? There is... / There is not...

In the restaurant, hotel or shops, you're going to want to be able to inquire as to what is available.

... bor mi?
... exists?
Telefon bor mi?
Is there a telephone?
Choy bor mi?
Is there any tea?
Honalar bor mi?
Have you any rooms?

In the sentences above, the "mi" makes for a question. Without it you've a statement. So in reply:

Telefon bor.
There is a telephone.
Choy bor.
There is some tea.
Honalar bor.
We have some rooms.

"Bor" means to exist. "Yoq" means to be lacking. So to reply in the negative:
Telefon yoq.
There is no telephone. -
A telephone is lacking.

Choy yoq.
There is no tea.
Honalar yoq.
There are no rooms.

Asking for Things in Uzbek

There are several ways to indicate you want something.

Iltimos... -ni bering.
Please... give.
Iltimos khisob-ni bering.
Please give the bill.
Iltimos menyu-ni bering.
Please give the menu.

Men... olmoqchiman.
I... want to take.
Men gazeta olmoqchiman.
I want a newspaper.
Men choy olmoqchiman.
I want tea.

Menga... kerak.
For me... is necessary.
Menga adres kerak.
I need an address.
Menga telefon kerak.
I need a telephone.

Men... istayman.
I... want.
Men hona istayman.
I want a room.
Men choy istayman.
I want tea.

Plurals in Uzbek

Making the plural in Uzbek is easy. Just add -lar:

Address: adres - adreslar
Bill: khisob - khisoblar
Bus: avtobus - avtobuslar
Key: kalit - kalit
Menu: menyu - menyular
Newspaper: gazeta - gazetalar
Restaurant: oshhona - oshhonalar
Room: hona - honalar
Tea: choy - choylar
Telephone: telefon - telefonlar

Self-Talk Uzbek

In learning a language, practice is of the essence - practice speaking, practice listening and, finally, practice thinking. If you are to speak Uzbek, it is not enough to know many practical sentences. You must also know how to manipulate them to create new sentences, indeed, new thoughts.

The self-talk program that follows is designed to put the barest bit of structure beneath what is learned in phrasebooks so that you can see to your needs and find out about your options in your own way. When you are done, you will not speak particularly good Uzbek. Your Uzbek may even be rather bad. But it will be sufficient for you to start thinking on your own of what you want to say and how you want to say it. And then you will be ready to get into the habit of speaking Uzbek, however poorly, all on your own, and to integrate the feedback you get from others into your understanding of the language.

Do not fret about mastering what is here. Like the vocabulary program, make use of that which you can, discard that which you cannot. Your goal here is merely to think in some form of Uzbek: to discard English as your medium of thought and take new words and new phrasings as your crutch when you're stuck for what to say. And then, practice. Mumble to yourself. Imagine yourself in conversation. Just so you use this to move from translating English to thinking in Uzbek.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Managing in Uzbek

Over the weekend, I ran across Just Enough Turkish, which includes a nice "Do it yourself" section on the barebones of Turkish phrases. Then I stumbled upon Polyglottery's write-up on Michel Thomas, which hits on the value of structural examples for making sense of how to use a language, even if you need more vocabulary to put on that linguistic skeleton.

I would love to find a Michel Thomas for Uzbek, but it doesn't seem likely to happen. In fact, there isn't even a substandard conversational grammar hodgepodge from Hippocrene. Your choices are Audio-Forum's Uzbek and deciphering the Hippocrene and LP Phrasebooks in search of underlying grammatical forms. Needless to say, I am not going to become Uzbek's Michel Thomas anytime soon. But I figured I could at least have a run at something like the concise "Do it yourself" in Just Enough Turkish.

Now, Turkish and Uzbek aren't exactly the same language, and I don't know enough of either to make everything line up, so I would not make an Uzbek version of the "Do it yourself," even absent copyright questions. However, drawing on LP, Awde's Uzbek Dict. and PB, the Audio-Forum program and Just Enough Turkish, I think it is possible to isolate some basic phrase structures and grammar rules for someone who wanted to speak a little simplified Uzbek badly but, with luck, understandably.

The above paragraphs are offered for purposes of explanation, apology and warning: Posts to come on Uzbek are not part of the main body of They are the muddle of an autodidact, even more than the rest of the site, and are offered for fellow language enthusiasts. The Uzbek I'm going to be describing is in some sense a figment of my imagination - a picture of how a non-native makes a little sense of the language without getting in too deep. It is not a properly undertaken effort to describe the language, either descriptively or proscriptively, just a first few steps toward getting one's head around Uzbek.

It is my hope that my meager offerings will introduce a way of approaching and understanding a Turkic language and Turkic thought, as well as giving the curious a headstart on learning proper Uzbek - and a desire to do so. More than anything, this program goes back to my earlier thoughts on self-talk and language-learning: for self-talk to progress, you need some way of forming your own thoughts, and this is it. It may not be (is not) grammatically up to par across the board, but it should help an English speaker feel like he or she is getting somewhere and doing something with the language, so as to maintain interest and motivation while getting over the hump between the excitement of starting and the excitement of really and truly progressing.

For what it's worth, the process I will be outlining is not unlike a child's learning: first you pick up a little bit perfectly - phrases learned, then you speak incorrectly but consistently - like a child saying "he goed," then comes the harmonization where knowing-without-understanding and understanding-without-knowing are replaced by the beginnings of mastery. What comes in the next posts is my own "he goed" phase of Uzbek learning. The shorter, more confident (or at least succinct) intro comes next, and then some structures for Uzbek self-talk and - if you get the chance - talking out loud. Corrections and explanations are welcomed, since I'm hardly a native. Those that make the course easier will be incorporated; the rest will go into notes.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Uzbek Song Vocabulary

If you look at the top downloads for Uzbek MP3s at any of the more common sites, you're going to run into a lot of jonims, sevgilims and azizs. Here's some vocabulary that pops up in Uzbek music:

Song Vocabulary
1. Fate – Qismat – It’s Kismet! It’s fate! Qismat.
2. Soul/liver – Bag’ir – He has the soul of a buyer, the liver of a giver. Bag’ir.
3. Heaven – Osmon – See the K-osmon-auts in the heavens. Osmon.
4. Life – Hayot – My life is so chaotic. Hayot.
5. Life’s journey – Umr – Humor me about my life, here. Umr.
6. Dear – Aziz – Nothing’s as eas-y as loving you, dear. Aziz.
7. Love – Sevgi – There’s a certain safety in love. Sevgi.
8. Darling – Sevgili – Think safety, Lee, my darling. Sevgili.
9. To love – Sev- Save yourself to love. Sevmoq.
10. Soul – Jon – Elton John has a lot of soul. Jon.
11. Dream/desire – Orzu – I dream to have a menagerie or zoo. Orzu.
12. Fancy/desire – Hayol – Hi, y’all, I got this fancy idea! Hayol.

Uzbek Colors

1. Black – Qora – Cora has a black eye. Qora.
2. Blue – Ko’k – Captain Kirk turned blue! Ko’k.
3. Color – Rang – The rang-bow has many colors. Rang.
4. Liver – Jigar – A jaguar ate my liver! Jigar.
5. Brown – Jigarrang – Liver-color (jaguar-rang). Jigarrang.
6. Green – Yashil – The green? Yeah, she’ll pick the green. Yashil.
7. Yellow – Sariq – She wore a yellow sari-k. Sariq.
8. Dark – To’q – He took the dark chocolate. To’q.
9. Orange – To’q sariq – Dark yellow (took sari-k). To’q sariq.
10. Red – Qizil – The red keys’ll be ready for you. Qizil.
11. White – Oq – The white oak is the whitest of trees. Oq.
12. Purple – Binafsha – Purple is the bean of the shah. Binafshah.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Uzbek Verbs

Here are 12 Uzbek verbs - another chunk of Uzbek vocabulary for quick and easy learning. If you're learning Uzbek, I hope this bit of easily acquired vocabulary helps.

Note that after the English, the stem of the verb - and the key to the memory aid - is given. At the end, the infinitive is given. See this great page to find out how to conjugate them.

1. Understand – Tushun- You can’t understand too soon. Tushunmoq.
2. Ask – So’ra- Be sure-a to ask-a… So’ramoq.
3. Speak – Gapir- I’ll go peer at the speaker. Gapirmoq.
4. Go – Bor- I’ll go full bore to get there. Bormoq.
5. Desire – Ista- What’s I wants is-ta gets what I wants. Istamoq.
6. Eat – Ye- Yeah, I wanna eat. Yemoq.
7. Drink – Ich- Each drink tasted better than the last. Ichmoq.
8. Come – Kel- Come to California. Kelmoq.
9. Know – Bil- I know the bill is coming. Bilmoq.
10. Close – Yop- It’s not y-open, it’s closed. Yopmoq.
11. Open – Och- Ouch! Open up, will ya? Ochmoq.
12. Get – Ol- With all thy getting, get understanding. Olmoq.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

This weekend - Uzbek

This weekend, I continued with Uzbek, as I suggested with my post last weekend. I also took another test at Polyglottery, which again suggested that it's Uzbek I ought to study since, in a nutshell, I want to and motivation's all-important for this sort of thing. I've also been enjoying Uzbek music, especially "Hayot," by an artist that mp3Uz and Uzfiles identify simply as Lola but who seems to be among the biggest of big deals.

My Uzbek studies this week included flashcards from items in the LP Central Asia Phrasebook, attempted deciphering of a few songs (Uzfiles has lyrics) and, as can be seen, attempts to build up a little vocabulary.

The associations for learning Uzbek vocabulary can be seen in the three previous posts. Sadly, this goofiness seems to work better than any of my carefully organized study schemes.

Out of town in Uzbek

Here's another dozen words of Uzbek. By the way, the words are being drawn from Rudelson's LP Central Asia, Khakimov's Uzbek-English Dict. (Hippocrene) and Awde's Uzbek Dictionary and Phrasebook (Hippocrene).

Out of town
1. Village – Qishloq – The village has a quiche lock, it’s so safe. Qishloq.
2. Desert – Cho’l – My brother gets churlish in the desert. Cho’l.
3. Farm – Ferma – He wants to farm on terra firma. Ferma.
4. Lake – Ko’l – The otters like to curl up by the lakeside. Ko’l.
5. Mountain – Tog’ – I stubbed my toe on the mountain. Tog’.
6. River – Daryo – Dario Fo paddled down the river. Daryo.
7. Road – Yo’l – You’ll find the road you need to the left. Yo’l.
8. Land – Yer – This land is yer land… Yer.
9. Rock – Tosh – I can’t drive through here. Tosh, it’s just a few rocks. Tosh.
10. Landslide – Toshqin – Tosh! Can you not drive around the rockslide? Toshqin.
11. Hill – Tepa – I made a tape o’ my walk up the hill. Tepa.
12. Map – Kharita – I carried a map for my journey. Kharita.

Uzbek family

Here's a second (or first, depending on reading order) bit of Uzbek vocabulary - family members:

1. Mother – Ona – My mother is the owner of a ’57 Chevy. Ona.
2. Father – Ota – My mother is one parent and my father is the other. Ota.
3. Husband – Er – To err is to marry my husband, she thought. Er.
4. Wife – Khotin – My wife put a second coating on her nails. Khotin.
5. Boyfriend/young man – Yigit – Ye git to work, young man. Yigit.
6. Girlfriend/girl – Qiz – His girlfriend wanted to borrow his keys. Qiz.
7. Son – O’g’il – “Here son, your supper.” “Ugh, eel!” O’g’il.
8. Daughter/girl – Qiz – His daughter wanted to borrow his keys. Qiz.
9. Older brother – Aka – My older brother likes to talk alot. Aka.
10. Younger brother – Uka – My younger brother prefers his ukelele. Uka.
11. Older sister – Opa – My older sister hope-a to get married one day.
12. Younger sister – Singil – My younger sister wants to stay single. Singil.

Animals in Uzbek!

From Harry Lorrayne to Unforgettable Languages and way back, people have used mnemonic devices to remember information. Here's our first of a couple contributions... 12 animals in Uzbek:

1. Cat – Mushuk – The cat mewed and shook. Mushuk.
2. Dog – It – My dog likes to eat and eat. It.
3. Donkey – Eshak – The donkey lives in a shack. Eshak.
4. Horse – Ot – The horse loves oats. Ot.
5. Monkey – Maimun – The monkey howled, “My moon!” Maimun.
6. Parrot – To’ti qushi – The parrot sat on a dirty cushion. To’ti qushi.
7. Pigeon – Kaptar – The pigeons are wearing hats? Capped are. Kaptar.
8. Rat – Kalamush – When da rat drives da sleigh he call a “mush!” Kalamush.
9. Sheep – Qo’i – When the sheep acts sheepish, he’s just being coy. Qo’i.
10. Bear – Ayiq – She went, “Ah! Eek!” when she saw the bear. Ayiq.
11. Bull – Buqa – The bull bought a book o’ stamps. Buqa.
12. Cow – Sigir – The cow smoked a cigar. Sigir.