Sunday, March 08, 2009

More Fun with Uzbek and Turkish

On January 1st, I wrote:
I set the intention to regularly use and rebuild my French toward regaining fluency.

I set the intention to regularly study Spanish and build toward conversational competence.

I set the intention to regularly study Italian and rebuild toward basic conversational competence.

I set the intention to rebuild and regain basic skills in spoken Mandarin.

Two weeks from now, I will be starting a class at the local Alliance Française, so there's some hope for number one. As far as studying Italian and Spanish, I've done some Pimsleur lessons off and on and listened to enough music not to lose them. As for Mandarin, as I remarked in my interview with the Aspiring Polyglot:
I’m actively avoiding studying Mandarin, though I’ll get back to it eventually.
I've had a love-hate relationship with Mandarin for a long time: If I spend enough time away, something happens that makes me wish I knew more and I get back to it for a while. Right now is one of the away periods.

What I have been doing, and enjoying greatly, is playing with the Turkic languages. And with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan back in the news (regarding where the U.S. will stage operations into Afghanistan), it seems like a good time to be interested in the Turkic languages.

To read about Central Asia is to experience a mix of horror and fascination. The famous names, like Genghis Khan, do not generally set one singing Kumbayah. The most hopeful Western reference I have is Coleridge:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree...
But amidst all the violence, you've got the famous bazaars, the Silk Road and the gorgeous mosques:
Boasting a different mosque for every day of the year, drawing the finest minds of the East with its cultural and commercial vitality, the city well deserved the title Bukhara the Holy. Everywhere else, it was said, light shone down from heaven; in Bukhara the light shone up. (MacLeod and Mayhew, Uzbekistan: The Golden Road to Samarkand, p. 11)
Of late, I've been reading about Uzbekistan (text cited above), as well as working with a couple Uzbek textbooks. And I've been working through Pimsleur Conversational Turkish - just finished lesson 11.

The Turkic languages are fun. It's like building with Legos. You take a word like "istemiyorum" - I don't want - and you can take it apart, see the different elements, and put them back together. Of course, you have to get pieces that fit together correctly, that is you have to follow the rules of vowel harmony and adjust a few consonants here and there. But there's a certain logic to it. It really seems like it ought to be a language of engineers, rather than the nomadic herders and ruthless warriors that it evokes.

What's been fun with the Pimsleur lessons is seeing how much Turkish goes together like Uzbek and seeing how ingeniously the Pimsleur folks have introduced the different verbal constructions of Turkish.

Coming up: More adventures with the Turkic languages, and a new project.


Blogger mache said...

Hey, I'm learning Turkish, too! Just finished lesson 10 in Pimsleur. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!


9:15 PM  
Blogger marufhon said...

Really glad, that you are interested in turkic languages. Feel free to contact me, if you need e-books in Uzbek. is very useful resource for language learning books and programms. Happy Learning!

9:31 AM  
Blogger gbarto said...

mache and marufhon,
Thanks for the comments.

For those in the States, where finding Turkic resources is nearly impossible, the site marufhon mentions is fantastic.

9:31 PM  
Blogger marufhon said...

There is another good resource on Turkic peoples:
Plenty of books, audio and video materials on Turkic peoples history, literature, religion and languages. Enjoy! :)

6:48 AM  

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