Unit 2 : How to Express yourself : “the Good and the Bad”

1. Adjectives and adverbs : attributive adjectives 

In Uyghur, you can usually find the adjectives before the noun they describe, like in English. Beware that in Uyghur we don’t need to add articles such as “a” or “the”. See examples :

  • yéngi kitab = new book
  • qizil orunduq = red chair

1.2 Adverbs of degree : xéli, bek, nahayiti, eng

You can alter the adjectives that you use for your speech, to indicate your point of view on a degree. It includes “bek” (very), “xéli” (quite), “nahayiti” (extremely) and the superlative “eng” (most). They all stand before the adjective they describe. Keep in mind that “xéli” and “nahayiti” are used in formal speech, and are more exhaustive. However, “bek” is less intensive and it is often orally used. There is no word in Uyghur to express “too” like something which is “too big”, that is why Uyghurs usually use the adverb “bek” that they can even combine it with “mu” (particle “also”). You can also use the adverb “anche + emes” (not too, not much…) which is used with a negated verb. Check the examples right here :

  • Xéli chong = Quite big
  • Bek chong = Very big
  • Eng chong = Biggest
  • Nahayiti chong = Extremely chong
  • Rusiye bekmu chong = Russia is very big
  • Bu bina xéli chong / yoghan ; Awu bina eng yoghan = This building is very big ; This building is the biggest
  • Bu bina chong emes = This building is not big
  • Bu gézit anche yaxshi emes = This newspaper is not so good

2. Adjectival predicates : 

The predicate in Uyghur grammar includes everything after the subject, and this element describe the subject (give an information about the subject, it qualifies it). At the beginning of the lesson, we have learned the noun predicates, and now we will focus on the adjectival predicates, and then we will continue with the verbal predicates (at unit 3). When the adjective appears after the noun it describes, it works as a predicate (example : bu kitab yéngi). Uyghur adjectives simply follow the subject : the verb BE is not necessary. Moreover, adjectival predicates are distinct from the attributive adjectives that appear before the noun they modify (example : yéngi kitab). Here examples :

  • U (subject) lughet (predicate) = That is a dictionary
  • Bu yéngi kitab yaxshi = This new book is good
  • Awu bina kichik = That building is small
  • Bu yéngi kitab = This is a new book

3. Conjunctions : we, hem (and) ; bilen (with, and) ;  lékin, biraq, emma (but) 

Conjunctions are less used in Uyghur than in English but it is needed to link two words or sentences together. The coordinating conjunction “we” (and) joins noun, whereas “hem” joins adjectives or verbs. When you want to link two sentences, only “we” is needed. “Hem” can only join two predicates (verbs or adjectives) in the same sentence, but not two different sentences. Uyghurs, often use “bilen” (with) as if it were a conjunction (example : Adil bilen Zafar). To form constrastive conjunctions, two predicates or sentences can be linked with “lékin, biraq”, or “emma” (but).

  • Adil, Zafar we Erkin = Adil, Zafar and Erkin
  • Ular hem chong hem égiz = They are both erderly and tall
  • U bina chong, biraq u anche kona emes = This building is large, but it is not very old

4. Vowel changes (vowel reduction/raising)

Uyghur vowels and consonants sometimes undergo sound changes when words or suffixes or particles are combined. For example “manta” (steamed dumpling) can change to “manti” when it is followed by “mu” ; beware that other vowels do not change (example polu/polumu = pilaf). There is a rule to help you to know which vowels will change : the word-final short vowels “a” and “e” are raised to “i” or “é” in an unstressed syllable. This rule applies to all kinds of words (verbs, adjectives, nouns), suffixes, and so it is useful to learn them because you will often encounter them.

  • Mantimu yaman emes = Manta are also not bad
  • Polumu bek temlik = Pilaf is very tasty too
  • Jümle / jümlimu = Sentence / sentence too
  • Bala / balimu = Child / child too
  • Texse / texsimu = Plate / plate too
  • Qisqa / qisqimu = Short / short too
  • Mashina / mashinilar = Car / cars
  • Dunya / dunyamu = World / world too
  • Baha / bahamu = Price / price too
  • Lampa / lampimu = Light bulb / light bulb too

5. Language use notes, several words and senses for “old” : kona, qéri, chong

First of all, “kona” only refers to inanimate things (material), such as “kona kitab” or “kona bina”. On the other hand, “qéri” is used for living beings : people, animals and plants such as “qéri adem” (aged person) or “qéri derex” (old tree). Beware that “qéri” is not so polite, and should never be used when referring to a person’s relatives or to someon’s face. On the contrary “chong” can mean both “big” and “old” where you should also keep in mind to use “yoghan” or “buyuk” for “big”.

5.2 Several words for “bad” : eski, nachar, yaman

These three words are opposed to “yaxshi”. When you speak negatively about someone or something, you can use “eski” and “nachar”. The first one implies a moral criticism, especially when it comes to people (example : “u adem bek eski”, which means “that person is really bad”). Sometimes “eski” also means “old, tattered” (“eski kitab”). When you refer to things which are clearly made of poor quality, you can use “yaman” (bad, evil). This word is not used lightly by adults, as it has a negative judgment (example : sheytan yaman). Children often use it as “sen yaman !” (you are evil !).

5.3 Using : qandaq, néme (what kind of/how, what)

Qandaq occurs in attribute and in a predicate position, it can mean “how” or “what kind of”. In the attributive usage, it can emphasize specific qualities of the following noun. In the predicative usage, it can request an evaluation of the overall quality of the subject. We also encounter “néme” (what). Even though, it can be used just like “qandaq”.

  • Bu qandaq lughet ? = What kind of dictionary is this ?
  • Bu lughet qandaq ? = How is this dictionary ?
  • Bu néme lughet ? = Which/what kind of dictionary is this ?
  • Qandaq tamaq ? = What kind of food ?
  • Uyghurche tamaq / Yaxshi tamaq = Uyghur food / Good food
  • Néme tamaq ? = What/which food ?

Exercice & Tips

In order to practice your Uyghurche and memorize new words, you can start to describe things around you at home (books, clothes, furniture…). Plus, you can also ask for others’ opinion about it if it is “yaxshi” or not. So that, you would be able to learn, memorize the words you just have read.