Aaron in Azerbaijan

Just another blog about Azerbaijan.

Where Learning English is Concerned

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It’s probably a little mean-spirited to be so critical of people who are learning English as their third or fourth language.  Yet, the combination of my losing my own perfected English and the comical nature of the use of some English words here makes for a some good-natured reflection on the difference in languages.

It’s mostly for my own amusement to account the strange ways in which I hear various words are put to use.  My favorite example is the translation of istirahət (kind of like saying straw hat): most people around here use the words rest or relax to get the point across.  This works, but instead of using the words as verbs, they keep the noun form that istirahət uses.  This results in sentences such as, “Would you like a relax?  Would you like to have a rest?” which just makes me think that they are going to hand me a fresh relax on a little plate, something I can take with me.  I would love if I could carry a relax with me.  The problem then arises that when I use phrases like take a vacation, take a break, or take time off, I am met with a blank look of confusion.  And instead of conforming to saying that I need a relax, I should probably actually attempt to teach these phrases a little more.

Another nice example is when people attempt to say something like, “This is just my opinion” or “These are my thoughts.”  Instead of those tidy phrases, we are instead met with, These are my minds.  Our recent Writing Olympics competition brought us this gem: These are my thinks! I liked that one a lot.  It’s a simple phrase in English, I think, but that attempt at translation only serves to provide a square word for a round hole in the sentence.

Another interesting aspect is the use of two main verbs: etmək and çəkmək.  These are verbs that roughly translate to “to do”.  Where the entertainment comes is when I’m searching for verbs to convey what I’m trying to do.  Çəkmək can be used after a number of words, such as cigarette (to smoke), head (to visit), picture (to draw).  It’s a very flexible word.  So what’s been happening recently is that I’ll need to do something such as change a light bulb or put together a desk or fix my door handle and I won’t really know the appropriate word to explain it.  Instead I’ll put my noun in front and pick either etmək or çəkmək to go after it and everyone seems to pick up what I’m saying.  Not sure how that works, but it means that my development in learning new verbs is a little stunted.  Why learn more when all I have to do is etmək or çəkmək something to convey what I’m doing?  This is going to result in me saying things in English such as “I’m going to do lightbulb” or “I do sponge the dishes.”  It’s a good thing that I have this blog to keep up my English practice.

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Written by Aaron

May 14, 2010 at 7:32 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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