Posts tagged Latin

What I Learn from my Kazakh Students (Part II)

Instead of writing about westerner’s post-modern thinking I’ll continue on the theme I started the other day about professions in Kazakhstan. Today we covered two more professions that were important to this student who came into my office to practice speaking his English.  He has a unique position here at the university and I really appreciated his insights from an “insider” Kazakh point of view.

First of all, he believes that the most popular profession in Kazakhstan is construction work. I think all residents in Astana and most in Almaty would have to agree, there continues to be buildings going up everywhere.  “Building Cranes” are the national bird in Kazakhstan but sadly the same cannot be said in the desperate villages.  Many of the workers come from Russia or rural Kazakhstan where the Turkish companies employ labor for  cheap.  The Turks are the ones who get the contracts to get things built and quickly.  In some cases, too quickly.

Apparently there are not enough engineers to help explain how some things should be built to fit the climate and land of Astana.  For instance, there are very few underground parking lots for cars simply because it is too expensive to create, the water table is too high in Astana.  Some of these companies might also build a wall in a building where the pipes are fitted but hidden behind those walls one cannot see that these pipes are not connected to anything, going nowhere.

Sewage issues abound if not done according to code.  Mistakes due to lack of expertise by the builders or lack of engineers continue to abound.  That is a reality here and sometimes buildings start cracking even before they are a year old.  I’ve been told earlier of one apartment complex across the river in the old part of Astana that is structurally unsound and has had to be abandoned.

The second occupation we talked on was about education.  What chances do people from the villages in Kazakhstan have if they are not given proper education to excel in something?  The vicious circle perpetuates itself because education in the village, which used to be highly prized during the Soviet Union, is no longer considered prestigious.  Teachers used to have incentives to stay in the villages to teach, they were given preferential treatment during the Soviet period, but now that is no longer true.  It’s very difficult for a Kazakh pedagogically trained teacher to return to the rural areas.  Especially true if they have been trained with the latest of technology.  But if there is no Internet and no connection to the outside world exists in the villages, there is a MAJOR disconnect.  Times have changed from the former Soviet days.

This person who came to my English lesson today didn’t realize that I was the one doing the learning. I learned what he knows is a sad reality where his middle-aged parents live in Kazakhstan.  His mother is a doctor for village clinics in her area, his father is an electrician.  Their neighbors and most of the village are pensioners and eke out a living in what they term “Natural life.”  They may breed cattle, sheep and horses to sell as livestock and have some gardens to tend.  But their lives are like ancient times with no running water and a few have a pump to get their water into their homes.

As a teacher of English, this is where it got very interesting to me when my student told me his grandmother used to know Kazakh in the Latin alphabet.  He told me that it is very difficult on his current keyboard on the computer to switch over to the Cyrillic and then to add 10 more letters from the numbers in the top row with the letters that are needed in Kazakh.  All this done with the shift key for upper case.

Put another way, the English language has 26 letters, the Russian Cyrillic has about 33 letters and the Kazakh has 42 letters.  He showed me on a keyboard I have with both Latin letters and Russian letters how he and others have to hunt and peck and shift with caps on and off in order to write a document in Kazakh. It’s very cumbersome.

He claimed that Turkey and Turkmenistan use the Latin letters, then why can’t the Kazakh teachers who are currently teaching Kazakh do the same?  They are forced to switch back and forth with shift keys to write with 42 letters making the learning of writing in the Kazakh language tedious or clearly very tiresome.  No wonder the Kazakh teachers don’t use modern technology when they teach in their Kazakh lessons, it is too difficult.

Why, oh why, when the Kazakh administrators in the Ministry of Education put the three languages (Russian, Kazakh and English) as mandatory languages for Kazakhstan into law several years ago that it would change back to Latin letters?  Apparently some “scientists” said it would be too difficult.

However, what you have now is a HUGE separation between learning of English with technology and learning through the Internet the language of Kazakh. It’s NOT happening.  Further compounding the problem of students learning how to write well in Kazakh.  It is just easier to speak and listen as it is an oral culture.

I was surprised to learn that there are so many synonyms for the same words in Kazakh. Being a very old but rich language they borrow words from the Arab language, from Russian and Turkish.  I asked if there were any Chinese words in the mix, he said “no.” There was much more that my student taught me today about his own culture all the while he was speaking in English without too many mistakes.  He just needs confidence by more practice because he does have the ability and the vocabulary.

Tomorrow we will hopefully listen to an American teacher who has lived in Kazakhstan for about a decade and has mastered speaking the Kazakh language.  Tonight I’ll meet with someone else who has lived here in Kazakhstan for 20 years and knows Kazakh. It is not impossible to learn, even the five words that I know and use liberally pleases or impresses my different taxi drivers and occasional Kazakh person I meet.

(to be continued)

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Ainiziya’s Great Grandfather Survived in Siberia for being an intellectual

I am going to write about my grandfather from my father’s side. The reason why I have chosen him is that his life seemed to me to be rich, full of interesting facts but sometimes problems.  My grandfather’s name was Abibolla Karkinbayev and he was born in May 12, 1930. His father, Karkynbay, was a doctor, astrologer and theologist. He was educated and could write and speak in old Latin, German, Arab languages. Also he could freely speak in Russian; it was quite unusual for those times.

My great-grandfather has studied in Kazan, the capital city of Tatarstan. In 1925-1926 he built a mosque and medrese. During those times children could not study anywhere, so he taught them at medrese. It was prohibited to teach people in those times, nevertheless he continued to teach. Soon he was arrested for his activities and for being educated. In 1938 were many fights with mullahs and my great-grandfather was sent to Malaya Zemlya, Sibir (North). Last few years he was a scribe, because only a few could read and write. However, this did not stop him to become sick. He was in Sibir (Siberia) from 1938 up to 1946. In 1946 he came back to Kazakhstan an ill person and after a few years he was gone…

Coming back to my grandfather, he studied at Narkhoz (KazEU now) university. After finishing his studies, he came back to his village. There he met my grandmother and they got married. In few years my grandfather got the highest positions in Public sector, specifically speaking in Sovkhoz sector. It comes to my mind, when my grandfather was alive; our house was full of people and our dastarkhan (table) was full of food and milk products. Those were the times of deficit, deficit of everything. We rarely faced those deficit problems with the help of my grandfather. Probably because my grandfather worked and got highest positions while my grandmother never worked. She even does not have a higher education. Nevertheless, I can surely say that she is very wise person.

I do not remember all the moments which were spent with my grandfather, because I was too young to remember, but I do remember some moments. And they never leave my memory of him. Even if I was too young, I could feel how he loved me, how he loved his family and his country. From my point of view he did his best to his village and his country as well. And as for me and my family he would always be the ideal and the best grandfather ever.

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English Rhyming Proverbs – Part I

These English Rhyming Proverbs are taken from “Dictionary of English Proverbs, Sayings and Idioms in Russian, Kazakh and German” by Sakina Akmetova, published by Mektel in Almaty, Kazakhstan 2009.

“A hedge between keeps friendship green.”

“After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a mile.”

“All the wisdom you gain, you will pay for in pain.”

“As the fool thinks, so the bell clinks” [Latin – Quod valde volumnus facile credimus]

“A man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds.” (Shakespeare)

“Good words without deeds are rushes and reeds.” Similar to “Deeds are fruits, words are leaves.”

“If ifs and ans were pots and pans, there’d be no trade for the tinker’s hand.”

“Men may meet, but mountains never greet.”

“Money spent on the brain is never spent in vain.”

“Some are wise And some are otherwise.” Or Ben Franklin wrote:

“Some are Weatherwise, some are otherwise.”

“The morning to the mountain, the evening to the fountain.”

“The feet are slow when the head wears snow.”

Fun proverbs to say (not rhyming)

“As sure as eggs is eggs” (done deal, or as sure as God created little green apples)

“He that hatches matches hatches catches.”

“Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you.”

“Every little makes a mickle.” OR “Many a little makes a mickle.” Irish

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