Ўзбек тили

That’s right. I’ve got a new love affair with a new language that fits RIGHT into my current repertoire. Uzbek.

It’s spoken by about 24 million people worldwide and is a Turkic language (perfect) written in a (modified) Cyrillic script. That means I can read it, and the vocabulary is (beginning to look) somewhat familiar already. Because Uzbek is a Turkic language, it also shares the same background and relation to Persian that Turkish does: vocabulary, colloquial expressions, etc. It’s heavily influenced by Islam, so the Persian/Arabic phrases are found throughout the language. It is not dissimilar to Kazakh and Kirghiz in all of these respects.

A sister gave me an RV that she thought was Russian. She wanted me to take care of it and was not going to worry about it any longer now that I was going to handle it. I went by (it was at a business) and managed to meet the young man. He has been here a very short while and his Russian was shaky. I asked him where he lived in Russia and he said he didn’t. I asked him what other languages he spoke. Guess. That’s right, Uzbek. I showed him the Uzbek page in the booklet and he was impressed, but also busy. I’m going to try to go back some time later next week maybe and see if I can get him at a not so busy time.

Because Uzbek is only spoken by a (relatively) small population, it’s not worth pouring your heart and soul into learning it from this side of the Caucasus. However, I’m certainly not going to pass up the opportunity to speak a little and get my feet a little wet with it. It’s a unique language, and one that’s almost dead between the two I’m already interested in. Seriously. It’s very interesting. But what it has also done is given me a little bit of insight into what languages it would be worth learning if I were to continue heading down the path I’m currently going. Here they are, in no particular order:

·         Persian (because most people speak it more comfortably than Arabic, even though more people speak Arabic)

·         Urdu- an easy(ish) transition from Persian. The script is very similar, the sounds are very similar, and it’s the second most spoken language on earth, if combined with Hindi, its near-twin, which is also another excellent reason to learn it.

·         Turkish- Already in the works, but has tons of influence from the Persian language, etc.

·         Russian- again, not a new undertaking, but with the above languages, you begin to comprise a part of the country that is very densely populated. There are Russian-speakers in places like Iran, Egypt, Georgia, etc. They would more comfortably speak Persian, but it wouldn’t hurt to throw some Slavic слова their way. AND…

·         In that part of the world, it wouldn’t be rare to come across Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Uzbeks, Uighers, and other Turkic-Slavic languages. These are all heavily influenced by (surprise) Turkish and Persian, and for most intents and purposes would be a breeze to simply wing it if you knew the above languages.

Persian and Urdu are both highly practical. Persian is incredibly poetic and has lots of literature behind it. It’s spoken by a sizeable population and has sired, if you will, a lot of other languages. Urdu gets you the rest, along with almost the entire Indian population through about a 95% (ish) percent comprehension of Hindi, a hugely important language, aside from the fact that you would have to learn to read it separate from Urdu. Bummer there.

So those are my new projects (new as in ‘I’ll get to those a few (or ten) years from now’ type projects), but just seem to be practical. We’ll see. Thoughts?

Uzbek moment of the day: Барча одамлар эркин, қадр-қиммат ва ҳуқуқларда тенг бўлиб туғиладилар. Улар ақл ва виждон соҳибидирлар ва бир-бирлари ила биродарларча муомала қилишлари зарур.



1)       Finnish is intriguing (read: addictive because it’s inaccessible)

2)       So are its relatives

3)       It’s arguably harder than Chinese

4)       It sounds super cool

5)       Its speakers are more literate than any other nation’s

6)       It’s a very clean place

7)       Some say it’s related to Turkish

Finnish is intriguing the way Mount Everest is intriguing. It’s incredibly difficult, looks cool, few people know it, and you can totally impress people if you say you’ve done it. There’s a certain appeal to Finnish, and I’m drawn to sitting and reading about it. I watch Finnish news on the internet (a confession) and try to read newspapers outloud. I like it. Learning it is also about as productive and useful as climbing Mount Everest: there’s very little marketable stuff that comes from climbing it.

I say it’s definitely harder than Chinese. “Oh, but we can’t even read Chinese… it’s got those funky characters and stuff!” Can you read Finnish? Correctly? We don’t have those ä’s and ö’s and stuff in English, and we certainly don’t stress the first syllable of every word, regardless of how long it is (like they do in Finnish), or have glottal stops between doubled consonants. We also don’t have fifteen noun cases like Finnish does. Neither does Chinese. “Oh, but Chinese has tones.” Guess what: so do at least 50% (easily more) of the world’s other languages. And many of them have more than standard Mandarin Chinese: Vietnamese has six tones, Thai five, Cantonese arguably has as many as ten, and tons of African languages like Yoruba or Lingala also have them. Anyway, all I’m saying is that to ‘read,’ another language (almost any other outside of the European sphere, and even some inside) you MUST learn new pronunciation rules. So what if those correspond to new characters? You’ve got to learn them anyway, and I would much rather learn a single character for a word than memorize how to spell a sixteen character one with diacritics galore.

Chinese is also a HIGHLY analytical language, meaning it has a very high morpheme-to-word ratio, and a byproduct of that is that word order is very important. This is not dissimilar to English. Languages like German, French, Lithuanian, Russian, and Finnish (along with its cousins, Hungarian and Estonian) all have word ENDINGS, cases of nouns that denote that word’s function in the sentence, meaning word order is far more flexible. The other end of the spectrum (barring polysynthetic languages like Navajo) is an agglutinative language, where word order is far more flexible because everything is noted by suffixes or endings (sometimes prefixes, like in Swahili). Finnish is agglutinative. This to me is far more difficult than an analytical language because grammar is far more difficult to commit to memory than vocabulary. Chinese grammar is very straightforward: nouns and verbs DO NOT CHANGE and word order is very important, and usually never changes. We are used to this in English. This is what we are familiar with. Languages like German and Russian are more fusional than agglutinative, which is a step between the two (analytical vs. agglutinative) With these, more than one classification or quality is represented by a specific ending, that is, the article (in German; Russian doesn’t have articles) will denote a “singular masculine accusative” noun, where there would be an ending for each of those ideas in a language like Turkish or Finnish.

Turkish has been very difficult for me in this regard because although the CHARTS and LISTS OF ENDINGS are easy to memorize, proper use of ‘the dative construction in the context of the passing of time,’ or ‘ablative of motion away from a place’ verses ‘genitive of progression of time’ or ‘inanimate accusative’ are things that are very difficult simply to ‘get used’ to using. They carry such shades of meaning and specific ideas, and one is proper when another isn’t, and word order changes with each one, etc. Chinese has none of that. It is entirely analytical, which means there are more ‘words,’ but it’s also more rigid and less changing.

So, the moral of the story is, it’s far easier (in my book) to learn a brand new writing system with four tones and thousands of characters that look very much alike but NOT worry about verb conjugations or noun declensions and cases than learn a language you (think you) can read but have to worry about fifteen cases and their proper applications. That having been said, I believe the use of endings and cases is incredibly logical, well-thought-out, efficient, and brilliant. I love Turkish grammar, but the word order and shades of meaning are taking time to get used to. Finnish may be a little more straightforward, but I doubt it.

I didn’t even get to them being related. Let me do some research and I’ll get back with you.





Don't try to explain it...

Finnish, that is…


I was having a nice linguistic discussion yesterday with a brother (an MTS grad) who speaks lots of languages and we got to talking about Finnish. He had some friends from Finland and said that the couple would speak Finnish to one another pretty regularly, and he said he thought the sound of the language was really cool. I agreed. We talked about how it’s different from the other European languages in so many aspects (foremost that it’s not Germanic or Romance) and what qualities give it the sound it has. We also talked about the infamous grammatical structure Finnish boasts. There was another person that invited themselves in on this discussion that had no business trying to do so, and it was funny to see her try to try her hand at Finnish as opposed to Spanish or something. We talked about how Finnish has sixteen noun cases, and she concluded that it must be related to German, because, as we had established already, German had three noun cases. Nope, sorry. She next asked if Finland was east or west of Norway and Sweden, and I explained that it shares a border with Russian, and that languages like Mari were examples of Finno-Ugric/Uralic languages that have adopted the (or a form of the) Cyrillic alphabet because of their geographic proximity. She then concluded that Finnish MUST be a Slavic language. Nope, actually not. (Mind you, she had heard the entire discussion of how the ONLY [major] languages [excluding dialects and minority/dead languages] Finnish is related to are Estonian and Hungarian, [and very distantly at that]) She wasn’t getting the idea that it’s NOT (really) related to ANYTHING. It was necessary to convince her that it was also not a Scandinavian language, and it also came up that they roll their R’s instead of swallow them like the Germans or French, and she then concluded that it MUST be related to Spanish. Guess what… Nope. Finnish is a Finnic language, just like Turkish is a Turkic language. Done.

Anyway, I think that’s all I have for now, aside from the fact that Latvian and Lithuanian were mentioned somewhere in there as representin’ the Baltic language family (holla’!!!), but we didn’t discuss that because we’d have to differentiate that from the ever-present enigma of what Finnish is related to.

IT’S NOT!!! I just wanted to be sure to clarify. Thank you.





French meets Persian and I meet...

…Wolof, but not until later.


Addressing a few things here. First, is the fact that I’ve deviated from my original intentions here… language stuff. There are a few things I’ll be implementing soon that will be fun (if not for you to read, then at least for me to write. Back off.) Also is the fact that I feel it necessary to mention I commented (somewhat cryptically) on a friend-of-a-friend’s (read: of-a-cousin’s) blog, and that if they decide to amble in this direction, that I was forwarded there by my cousin, who is married to a Korean brother in the southeastern United States. Whatever. (I’m trying to stick to that policy that H’n’B initiated of not using real names, which is good.) She’ll tell him.


Anyway, I wanted to do a little research on some African linguistics because I’m not very familiar with a lot of that stuff. Swahili: easy as pie. It’s the simplest of the Bantu languages, it’s not tonal, TONS of Arabic loanwords (which means I’m actually noticing a lot of similarities with it and Turkish), pronunciation is a snap, and it’s (ostensibly) agglutinative, with prefixes instead of suffixes. That works. All the West African countries speak French, and most of northern ones, Arabic. Moroccans, for example, (at least the ones I’ve met) speak French far more comfortably than they do Arabic, but can get by with it. It’s all that Muslim influence, and it also has greatly affected languages like Swahili and Turkish, and by extension of Turkish, even languages like Azerbaijani, Kirghiz, Khazak, and even Mongolian (which is technically a Turkic language, but is, as some linguists believe (read: I believe), the bridge between Turkish and Korean, because they also say Korean is an Altaic language, and that Mongolian has enough Asian influence to bridge the gap between the two).  Most of these languages are written in a modified Cyrillic alphabet, which makes it easier (for me) to read than an Arabic (or modified Arabic) alphabet. (I’m losing some direction here, so new paragraph…)

My point in that last paragraph is (at least) two fold:

  1. I have this Persian call (I have a few that I’ve been turned over because no one else in our area handles the S-43 “turnover” forms) at a grocery store in our area. I spoke to her again yesterday for the second time, and showed her the page in the “Good News,” brochure. She got very emotional and read it, etc. She said thank you in what I thought was French… Seemed strange to me. What she said was مارصا, (which is actually in Arabic, and as best as I can spell it), or in our alphabet, merci. I asked her if thank you wasn’t Teşekkür, (because it’s the same in Turkish) and she said yes, but that they use Merci as well. SO the question is, at what point did Persian borrow from French (or vice versa) to share that word? I don’t believe it’s mere coincidence, but the fact that it’s a ‘basic conversational’ and therefore ‘international’ word, it could have crossed some borders somewhere. But where? The north Africans speak Arabic, not Persian, and the other conquests in south Asia or Canada aren’t much help… I must be missing something and seem horribly ignorant to some reader somewhere.
  2. French brings us back to Africa, which brings us to languages like Arabic, Hausa, Swahili, Zulu, etc, and although a great many of those are Bantu languages, and therefore tonal, there are some that aren’t. For example, in South Africa, there’s a great Germanic influence, (overlooking the obvious fact that they speak ENGLISH) because Afrikaans is so closely related to Dutch. However, I know very little about those languages, and although I have some friends that speak languages like Edo, Yoruba, Twi, and Fon, even they say it’s not an incredibly wise expenditure of your time to pour your heart and soul into a language like Xhoza or Zulu (which, by the way, are highly mutually intelligible). That having been said, number two could be condensed down to this: “I want to learn a little more about the linguistics of African languages.”

In my Turkish studies lately, I have been looking at, and understanding at that, languages that have their bases in Turkish, and by extension, the Semitic or Indo-Aryan/Iranian (i.e. Persian and Arabic) languages that Turkish gets a great deal of its vocabulary from.

For example: I think a few months ago, Azerbaijani was on my bottom ten list. It’s still not a language I am particularly fond of, nor one I care to learn. However, instead of it being a strange language with upside-down e’s and weird words, I can actually read and understand a great portion of it because of the glaring similarities to Turkish. Azerbaijani has been largely adulterated in the homeland by Russian (which is TOTALLY a linguistic promotion) and even the older generation Azerbaijanis I’ve met can’t read their language in its own Roman script. Those that live in other parts of the world (and don’t speak Russian) have pretty much defaulted to Persian, another good choice. My point is, though, that I am beginning to have a grasp of some other pretty oddball languages, and the rule of six degrees of separation is thus true in linguistics, and it may even be smaller than that with powerhouses like Arabic, Russian, French, and (obviously) English in the mix.

Also, I like to hear myself type.


Hamba kahle…


More Acousticism

Went to a show this weekend with some cousins and friends, and it was very good. I saw Edwin McCain. He’s not my favorite, and I couldn’t name any more than about three songs of his that I knew before I went. The venue was very cool, and the group was great. Sam Thacker opened, and he’s also from around these parts. He was very very good. He had no more than a guitar on stage with him (aside from some of Mr. McCain’s stuff) and was very enjoyable. He interacted with the audience, and even did a Fiona Apple cover that was outstanding. I spoke to him afterwards and he asked me how he thought the cover went over. I told him it went swimmingly. He was pleased to hear it, and he said he’d never tried that before.

Edwin McCain was very good too, and isn’t quite my kind of music, but it’s all mostly acoustic and folk/storytelling-ish, so it was good. He would tell lots of stories about where he got the lyrics for this song or that one, and what events he was writing about. I always enjoy listening to that kind of stuff, especially in that kind of an intimate setting. He had some hilarious stories about some very famous “musicians,” that he shared, and he as an excellent sense of humor. It was a long show. Thacker played for over an hour, and McCain was onstage for over two.

What this all comes down to is plugging Sam Thacker’s new (only) CD, Above the Underneath. Goofy title, yes, but Good Music, also yes. It’s not on Amazon, and I don’t know where you’ll get it. I got mine (signed) at the show. Buy it.

(Also I haven’t posted in a while and this seemed an appropriate topic.)


I SOOO wasn't going to do this....

But when I saw that H’n’B decided to, I felt somewhat left out. Besides, it’s interesting, right? Only if people participate. We’ll see…


You can get my Jamaica window here.

Why do we find it so fascinating to have people tell us stuff about ourselves, good or bad? Who knows…


This is a little more like it...

You should learn Hindi

QuizGalaxy Language Quiz!

You should learn Hindi. You like to be able to speak to people wherever you travel if even just a little bit. You are very versatile and like adventure.

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

How'd This Happen?

You scored as Spanish. 

You should learn Spanish. It can be useful especially if you live in the United States.


Spanish: 87%

Arabic: 73%

French: 60%

Chinese: 54%

Latin: 53%

Japanese: 47%

English: 0%


What Language Should You Learn?