26 January 2006

Russian Fatigue

I really have little desire to study Russian. Never have. And I still don't even after nearly 6 months here. Yes, I am studying it, and I've learned enough to get around Bishkek reasonably well, but I don't want to learn anymore.

I liked studying Arabic and I wanted to learn it before I ever started. I choose to learn it because I wanted to talk to Arabs. I don't have the same desire to talk to Russians even though I like Russians.

I finished the Russian book I was working through. I've learned the basic grammar and it would be silly to completely drop it. I couldn't anyway because I need to use it in Bishkek.

But what I really want to do is switch to Kyrgyz or Uzbek because I want to speak to Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and have the option of branching out to Uyghur. There aren't a lot of resources for learning Kyrgyz, even in Kyrgyzstan. My brother-in-law was kind enough to download two Kyrgyz language resources for me, and we have our Uzbek books here, so I think it's time for a change.

And I've never learned an agglutinative language. Maybe it will be easier. All I know is I'm sick of the case endings in Russian.

More on China still coming. I was going to do more pictures yesterday, but the phone wasn't working. Bishkek requires patience. It has made a huge difference for my older son for whom patience was never a virtue.

And finally, an interesting article discussing Christian proselytizing in Kazakhstan. Interesting because it's one of the first I've read- from a local or foreign perspective- that has not been entirely critical of proselytizing.


  1. I'm sorry. I love Russian! But if you'd rather be studying Kyrgyz or something else, I don't see why you shouldn't. :) I'm interested to know more about Kyrgyz from a linguistics standpoint.

    As for me, I've actually had a bit of Arabic fatigue. It takes a lot of work, and really, in the UAE, it's so unnecessary to speak or read Arabic. Also, I feel dumb using the standard Arabic because I know it's not the dialect, but finding locals to practice speaking with is not an easy thing. However, we visited Oman a couple weeks ago and the lack of English there made me want to revisit my Arabic books.

  2. See, you chose to study Russian, and I chose Arabic. We were both forced a bit into studying the other. The only reason that I really want to keep going with Russian is so I can understand things in church, but that's not even an issue till the Church is recognized here.

  3. I think that maybe the best way for you to learn Kyrgyz might be to find a schoolteacher who'd give you private instruction. I think that's how one of my friends ended up learning Uzbek in Tashkent. In fact, if you found a good English teacher whose first language was Kyrgyz, I bet that'd work.

    I'm taking a class from a Kyrgyz woman this term with a lot of people who study Kyrgyz. I'm always impressed with how much I can understand from knowing a bit of Uzbek. (All things considered, I like the sound of Uzbek. It's softer than Kyrgyz and Kazakh.)

  4. I'd actually prefer to learn Uzbek- far more people speak it and it would be easy to pick up Uyghur afterwards. I'd prefer that combination to the Kazakh/Kyrgyz one.

    But it really makes more sense to learn Kyrgyz right now. And I could at least learn marketplace Kyrgyz quickly- everyone corrects me when I speak Russian at the bazaar anyway.

    Our Russian teacher would love to teach us Kyrgyz instead. But he isn't really that great of a teacher- he just writes down lists of words for us until we can distract him with speaking practice. At least until we have trouble and he tells us to say it in English instead!

  5. I enjoy Russian as well. Although I think we should all learn basic Chinese for the inevitable invasion.

    A couple of days ago a woman came through my line and couldn't speak English very well, I detected an accent and asked if she was Russian. She said something to me in Russian, and I answered (I know this phrase cold) in Russian: "I know nothing." We all laughed and I helped her navigate.

    I love how just that small smattering of a language can bond people.