Unit 1 : How to Make Simple Sentences “What is this ?”

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1. Copular sentences : declarative form

In Uyghur when you want to make a simple sentence, you just must juxtapose A and B. That is to say, no linking verb is necessary between A and B. If you are using a descriptive adjective like “new” or “good”, simply add the adjective after the noun in the same way. Here are some examples :

  • Bu qelem = This is a pen
  • U muellim = She/He/That is a teacher
  • Bu qelem yéngi = This pen is new
  • U muellim yaxshi = That teacher is good.

1.2 Question forms : using the particle mu and the interrogative pronouns kim, néme, qaysi

To ask a question which can be answered by “yes” or “no”, you can add an adjective or a noun. Therefore, we use interrogative pronouns like “néme” (what) or “kim” (who). In Uyghur, the question word will simply replace the noun in question, so it will be after the subject. Notice that, you do not need the particle “mu”.

  • U deptermu ? = Is that a notebook ?
  • U kichikmu ? = Is that small ?
  • Bu qeghezmu ? = Is this a paper ?
  • Bu yéngimu ? = Is this new ?
  • Bu kim ? = Who is this ?
  • Bu néme = What is this ?
  • Adil kim ? = Who is Adil ?

2. Demonstrative pronouns : plain forms with bu, u shu

Uyghur demonstratives distinguish three degrees of relative distance from the speaker : between an object close to us (this), from an object that is further away (that), from one that is even further away (that over there). We will first concentrate on learning “bu”, “u” and “shu”.

  • Bu kitab (this book) : where you can use bu for a visible person, object or concept close to the speaker
  • U gézit (that is a newspaper) : you can use for a visible person, object or concept distance from the speaker
  • Shu kelmidi (that one did not come) : used to clarify a distant previously-mentioned object in the affirmative

Derived forms : mawu, awu, mushu, ashu

Uyghur has also derived forms of the above, meaning “this one” and “that one” or “that one” (over there), to be used when the speaker points out an object. There are intensified forms of “bu” and “u”.

  • Mawu lughet (this one is a dictionary) : mawu, used for concrete objects (in speech often shortened to ma)
  • Awu terepte (over there/on that side over there) : where you can use it for distant objects from the speaker
  • Mushumu ? (is this the one ?) : mushu, clarifies something searched/looked for
  • Mushu kitab mu ? – Hee, ashu (yes, that is the one) : ashu, used for a confirmation in a response to a question

Uses of demonstrative pronouns : 

Demonstrative pronouns can be used just like a noun and stand alone, but they can also modify another noun as an attribute. Here are some examples :

  • Bu qeghez = This is a paper
  • U kim ? = Who is that ?
  • Awu muellim = That is a teacher
  • Bu adem kim ? = Who is this person
  • Bu adem Erkin = This person is Erkin
  • Bu nerse néme ? = What is this thing ?
  • Mushu nerse kompyutér = This (here) thing is a computer

Demonstrative pronouns summing up : 

The most commonly-used demonstratives are “bu”, “u” and “awu”. If the item talked about is close to one of the speakers than the other, they might use different demonstratives when talking about the same object.

  • Bu Adil, u Abliz, awu Zafar = This is Adil, that is Abliz, and that one (over there) is Zafar
  • Bu nerse néme ? = What is this thing ?
  • U (nerse) texse = That (thing) is a plate.

Language notes : echo questions with the particle chu (and how about… ?)

After a speaker has asked one question, she can make an abbreviated question using the particle “chu”. At the end of a clause, after isolated nouns, pronouns or adverbs, “chu” forms an echo question. Speakers use it to avoid repetition, to ask a similar question to one just asked previously but perhaps referring to a different person or object, as it is a shortcut.

  • Bu adem muellimmu ? = Is this person a teacher ?
  • Hee, bu adem muellim = Yes this person is a teacher
  • U ademchu ? = And what about this person ?
  • Yaq, u muellim emes = No, she/he is not a teacher
  • Uchu ? = And what about him/her/it ?
  • Awuchu ? = And what about that ?

The particle mu (also/too) : 

Besides the sentence-final question particle “mu”, Uyghur has another “mu” which is placed just after nouns and pronouns, meaning “too/also”. This “mu” is always stressed. It can also be used for emphasis, or interrogatives.

  • Awumu zhurnal = That is also a magazine
  • Meryemmu oqughuchi  = Meryem is a student too
  • Chongmu öy iken bu = This is really a big house
  • U zhurnalmu? = Is that a magazine ?
  • Awumu zhurnalmu ? = Is that (over there) a magazine too ?

Exercise & Tips : 

By a list of nouns, you can first practice your Uyghur by asking the appropriate question either “who is this” or “what is that” for instance. And then give the answer “this/that is…”. Use words that you feel comfortable with. Plus, form and answer questions by yourself. You can also write down affirmative sentences and put them into negative ones with “emes” for instance. Finally, you can practice your Uyghur by showing photographs of your family or friends and you can introduce them to someone.

Feel free with it & Good luck !