Thursday, March 30, 2023

An American anthropologist explores the characteristics of the Kazakh language and culture

Nur-Sultan – How many foreigners can speak Kazakh? There is no exact data on the subject, but Alex Warburton, a linguistic, social, and cultural anthropologist from contemporary Kazakhstan and Turkish Central Asia, in the United States, referred to Kazakhs to understand local humor and engage in conversation in bookstores and markets. Well studied. abroad.

Warburton at Medu Outdoor Ice Rink in Almaty. Image credit: Alex Warburton

When and why did Warburton come to Kazakhstan?

In an interview with the Astana Times, Warburton said that he first came to Kazakhstan in 2016 to explore the country, its people and its language from a scientific point of view as it was the subject of his doctoral research at Harvard University. Wherever Warburton went, he learned the native language of the country, so he now speaks Spanish, French, Chinese, Indonesian, Turkish, Russian and Kazakh.

According to him, he entered Harvard University to study Turkish and Turkish, but in the end he changed his mind and chose Kazakhstan.

“Before coming here, I knew nothing about the post-Soviet world. When I came here for the first time lived with a Kazakh family. My adoptive mother and daughter spoke to me in Kazakh, but they spoke a lot Add Russian words,” Warburton said in an interview with Tengrinews agency. “At that time I did not know Russian.”

Warburton explained that he could only study Kazakh in Kazakhstan because he was completely immersed in his studies in the United States and there were very few Kazakh courses. He began studying Kazakh in 2016 at Kemp University in Almaty and completed his studies the following year at Nazarbayev University in Nursultan. In 2018, he returned to Almaty.

An American Anthropologist Explores The Characteristics Of The Kazakh Language And Culture

Warburton near Colsai Lake. Image credit: Alex Warburton

“I started my field year in January 2020, but I stopped in March because of the outbreak and had to wait 18 months to be able to return to Kazakhstan,” Warburton explains.

In November 2021, he returned to the country to do fieldwork and study the language. Warburton plans to remain in Kazakhstan until at least November 2022.

Kazakh Description

Talking about the details of the Kazakh language, Warburton notes that its syntax and structure is the hardest part because it is so different from English.

“English and Russian are Indo-European languages, so the structure is similar. Take, for example, the word ‘that.’ will look different.

When asked about his efforts to correct his pronunciation, Warburton said that no one ever laughed, and conversely, people understood that he was not a native and really appreciated his efforts at speaking Kazakh.

An American Anthropologist Explores The Characteristics Of The Kazakh Language And Culture

Warburton explores the landscape of the country. Image credit: Alex Warburton

“I don’t speak Kazakh much in the shop because if I start speaking Kazakh we will start talking and it will last a long time,” he said.

About culture, food and travel

Warburton also explored Kazakh culture, eventually concluding that he liked it.

“The first artist I was interested in was Moldanazar, and there were many others. Of those films, I really liked “Tulip” – the story of a young man who is in the Navy and returns to his village, where he is a decides to find a wife. Frankly, I love comedy the most and I watched “Kazakh Business” and “My Big Kazakh Family,” Warburton said.

As an anthropologist, he is curious about the country’s Bedouin culture.

“In the past, when a guest came to a yurt (traditional Kazakh residence), he was seated in a place of honor called a “rag”, and it was behind the stove, in front of the entrance. Interestingly, this tradition still exists today, although people lived in apartments for a long time,” the researchers wrote.

An American Anthropologist Explores The Characteristics Of The Kazakh Language And Culture

Warburton practiced Kazakh with members of the Kazakh-speaking Battle Ball Club, which opened in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty. Image credit: Alex Warburton

Warburton found people’s love for meat very attractive.

In the United States, for example, people do not eat fatty meats, but these are the best dishes. I am used to it too. I may not be able to eat it like the locals, but I am starting to understand how well it tastes, for example, in foods like sausages made from horse meat,” he said.

Warburton has traveled to Nur-Sultan, Burabai National Park, Karagandi, Taldykorgan, Tekele, Kijan, Karkara, Shymkent and Uralsk.

According to him, he wants to see the West Kazakhstan region, especially the Atrau and Mangystau regions.

“In part to see the Caspian Sea and the Ustyurt Plateau, but also because people tell me that there are more people who speak Kazakh and I wanted to try what it was like to be in a place where Kazakhs could literally talk to each other.” Do it,” he said. Done.

Warburton also wanted to explore the Altai region for its wonderful nature.

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