Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Introduction to Uzbek

Before beginning the Itty Bitty Course for Uzbek, there are a few things you should know.

1. Over the years, Uzbek has been written with the Arabic, Cyrillic and Roman scripts. While efforts have been made to standardize the writing of Uzbek with a Roman script, it’s not clear which if any will take. This guide follows the system used in Awde’s Uzbek Dictionary and Phrasebook, but individual words, spellings and pronunciations may differ from Awde where a) outside sources indicated a better or easier-to-learn variant or b) a particular variant seemed to harmonize more readily with other Turkic languages, making polyglottism across Central Asia an easier aspiration.

2. Uzbek is from the same source as Turkish. Like Turkish, a fair amount of Arabic and Persian vocabulary have crept in. As a result, knowing polite phrases in Uzbek will, strangely enough, give you a headstart on exchanging pleasantries in the completely unrelated Iranian languages and in Urdu. There is also a Russian influence though that may fade now that Uzbekistan is independent of the Soviet Union.

3. The Turkic languages have vowel harmony, a phenomenon whereby word endings change to harmonize with the vowel of the last syllable of the root. This system is quite carefully elaborated in other Turkic languages, eg Turkish. But, as this UCLA Uzbek language profile notes:
…whereas the system is active in colloquial forms of the spoken language, it is poorly reflected in the written langauge.
In other words, you’re not going to have to learn vowel harmony necessarily. But you are going to have to keep your ears open for endings that you don’t quite recognize. With time, you should develop an Uzbek ear for things, aided by the fact that the system actually facilitates pronunciation.

4. In Uzbek, the present tense of to be, negation, possessives and a whole lot more are marked by endings, not separate words. Pay particular attention to the “Are you happy?…” sections of the lessons to get a feel for how this works.

Uzbek Lesson Five - Nouns

Water - Suv
Meat - Go'sht
Bread - Non

Coffee - Kofe
Tea - Choy
Milk - Sut

Room - Xona
Bed - Karavat
Bathroom - Hojatxona

Table - Stol
Chair - Stul
Desk - Stol

Person - Kishi
Place - Yer
Thing - Narsa

House - Uy
Car - Mashina
City - Shahan

Cat - Mushuk
Dog - Kuchuk
Friend - O'rtoq

Uzbek Lesson Four - A Few More Basics

Hello - Assalomu alaykum
Goodbye - Xayr
Excuse me - Kechirasiz

(I am) American - (Men) amerikalik(man)
(I am) British - (Men) britaniyalik(man)
How much is it? - Necha pul?

Please write it - Yozib berolasizmi
Thank you - Rahmat
Credit card - Kredit kartochka

I like it - Menga yoqdi
I don't like it - Menga yoqmadi
Good - Yaxshi

Come - Keling
Look - Qarang
Stop - To'xtang

I don't understand - Tushunmayman
I'm sorry - Uzr
Where is the hotel? - Mehmonxona qayerda?

I want... - Menga... kerak
Just a minute - Ozgina sabr qiling
Check, please - Iltimos, hisobni bering

Uzbek Lesson Three - Still More Basics

Hello - Assalomu alaykum
Goodbye - Xayr
Excuse me - Kechirasiz

Are you happy? - Xursandmisiz?
I am happy - Xursandman
I am not happy - Xursand emasman

Are you sad? - Xafamisiz?
I am sad - Xafaman
I am not sad - Xafa emasman

Are you tired? - Charchaganmisiz?
I am tired - Charchaganman
I am not tired - Charchagan emasman

One, two, three - Bir, ikki, uch
Four, five, six - To'rt, besh, olti
Seven, eight, nine - Yetti, sakkiz, to'qqiz

Zero - nul
Ten, eleven, twelve - O'n, o'n bir, o'n ikki
(To the) left, right - Chap(ga), o'ng(ga)

(Go) straight ahead - To'griga (yuravering)
Fast, slow - Tez, sekin
(Stop) here - Shu yerda (to'xtang)

Uzbek Lesson Two - More Basics

Hello - Assalomu alaykum
Goodbye - Xayr
Excuse me - Kechirasiz

Please - Marhamat
Thanks (to you) - Rahmat (sizga)
You're welcome - Arzimaydi

Do you understand? - Tushunasizmi?
I understand - Tushunaman
I don't understand - Tushunmayman

What's this? - Nima bu?
What's your name? - Ismingiz nima?
My name is... - Ismim...

Are you happy? - Xursandmisiz?
I am happy - Xursandman
You are happy - Xursandsiz

Are you sad? - Xafamisiz?
I am sad - Xafaman
You are sad - Xafasiz

Are you tired? - Charchaganmisiz?
I am tired - Charchaganman
You are tired - Charchagansiz

Uzbek Lesson One - Basics

Hello - Assalomu alaykum
Goodbye - Xayr
Excuse me - Kechirasiz

I'm sorry - Uzr
How are you? - Yaxshimisiz?
(I'm) fine - Yaxshi(man)

Please - Marhamat
Thanks (to you) - Rahmat (sizga)
You're welcome - Arzimaydi

Where is...? - ...qayerda?
Bus station - Avtostansiya
Where is the bus station? - Avtostansiya qayerda?

Airport - Aeroport
Market - Bozor
Train station - Vokzal

Restaurant - Oshxona
Hotel - Mehmonxona
Where is the hotel? - Mehmonxona qayerda?

Police - Militsiya
Ambulance - Tez yordam
Doctor - Doktor

Introduction to the Turkish Language

Before beginning the Itty Bitty Course for Turkish, there are a few things you should know.

1. Turkish is written with a very particular script adapted from the Roman alphabet. Be sure to distinguish the following:

a = ah; e = ay; ı = ih (as in bit); i = ee; o = oh; ö = er (like the “u” in burn); u = oo (as in coo); ü = oo at the front of the mouth (as in “view); c = j (as in judge); ç = ch; ğ is just a pause; ş = sh

2. A lot of Arabic and Persian (and a little Italian) have crept into Turkish. If you know any of these, the further you go in Turkish the more familiar words you’ll find.

3. Turkish has vowel harmony. That means that word endings change depending on the vowel in the preceding syllable. Look at these four phrases:
Amerikalı(y)ım = I am American
iyi(y)im = I am good
mutlu(y)um = I am happy
üzgünüm = I am sadIn all four phrases, the boldface means “I am.” But the vowels changed, as you can see, to match the vowel in the syllable before. It’s more complicated than that, so just learn the phrases as they are. But know you know why the endings change. Incidentally, if you make mistakes with this, you’ll probably be understood. Don’t worry about the grammar; just focus on saying things the way you hear them.

4. Turkish uses endings in a lot of places where English uses short but separate words. You’ve already seen how “-im” means “I am.” In the “Are you happy?…” sections of lessons two and three you’ll see a little of how this works.