Friday, May 25, 2012

Kazakh language

Hello Everyone,

I have been thinking the last few weeks about what foreign language I should blog about. There are so many interesting ones out there, it is hard to choose. For the past month I have been taking a Law Class, one of my classmates is a lawyer from Kazakhstan. She is a very nice woman, and also very intelligent. She told me that Kazakh is a little bit like Turkish and a little bit like Arabic, but it uses the Cyrillic alphabet. I am fascinated by the idea that language families grow, shift, and move together. They evolve just like humans and all life forms evolve.  Languages in a way, are life. They are intellectual phenomena uniting all people. As we evolve, they evolve. So I decided to post some little tid-bits about the Kazakh language.

Kazakh language is first an Indo-European language and second, it is a Turkic Language. Turkic is a language family which consists of thirty five languages. Anytime you see a place name, with the suffix -stan, you know that it is a place.  Turkic languages are spoken naively to some 200 million people. Kazakh is spoken by ten million in the country of Kazskhstan and 8.3 million people in other countries. I would say that this means Turkic languages, and the Kazak language are worth knowing about.

Turkic languages, and of course Kazakh language are different from other languages because they have something called - vowel harmony. Vowel harmony means there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other.Harmony processes are "long-distance" in the sense that the assimilation involves sounds that are separated by intervening segments (usually consonant segments). In other words, harmony refers to the assimilation of sounds that are not adjacent to each other. For example, a vowel at the beginning of a word can trigger assimilation in a vowel at the end of a word. The assimilation occurs across the entire word in many languages.

Kazakh, like all other Turkic Languages also contain a grammatical process called agglutination. Agglutination is the building up of words from component morphemes in such a way that they undergo little or no change of form or meaning in the process of combination. I do remember this from my brief study of Turkish. It was a long time ago and I remember that the suffixes of words just built up, and up, and up on each other. I never progressed far into my Turkish studies. I wish I had. One thing about language learning we must always remember is that time will pass anyway. Learning a language takes a long time, but that time will go by no matter what. The only question is - What do you plan on doing with that time? I did not understand this when I first became interested in Turkish which is why I did not pursue it. Big mistake.

While thinking about the similarities between Kazakh and Turkish, I wondered if there were YouTube videos about the Kazakh language. When it comes to language learning, one can almost always find instructional videos on YouTube. I did a little search and voilà!  I would love to upload more Kazakh videos, but it just takes too long and I know you all will not watch all of them. 

As many of you already know, I love language maps. I am not a very good map maker myself so I like to rip them off from Google. I love languages and I love maps. The red and pink map is a map of the Turkic language family. 

Would you like to learn Kazakh? Here are some links to help you get started. 
Remember - there is no such thing as a useless language. This is something you do for yourself. Let other people call you eccentric, personal enrichment is reason enough to learn languages. 

I knew that the University of Washington had a great language department. In fact I was at the University book store today browsing through their legal department. I had no idea that they offered Kazakh language! Here is a link to their schedule of classes if you are interested.

In Kazakhstan one finds the Aral Sea, or at least what used to be the Aral Sea. This is really very sad. The Russians diverted all the rivers that fed the Aral Sea for irrigation. Now the Sea is all dried up ruining the fishing economy, leaving people unemployed. The winters are harsher and the summers are hotter. The only advantage to that kind of climate would be for the fruit business. Cold winters and hot summers make great apples and peaches. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. I do not know how many of you will take the time to learn a little about this language. I enjoyed reading up on it. May you enjoy your language learning, and reach your goals.


Extra Kazakh links...

1 comment:

DDD said...

great post!

turkic languages aren't indo-european though, sometimes they're classified under the 'altaic' family but not all linguists agree

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