Uzbek/Lesson One

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Girls in Bukhara

This lesson is divided up into several sections. After your done you'll be ready to have your very first conversation in Uzbek. Sure, it'll be real simple—but you'll know how to greet somebody, introduce yourself, ask some polite questions, and say goodbye. If you want to do it intensive (which I'd recommend) you can do this all as one lesson. If you don't have much time the dialogues are broken up into four sections—just do one. (Eventually I think we'll merge all four tiny dialogues)

Cultural Notes[edit]

Uzbeks make up over 70 percent of the population of the Central Asian country called Uzbekistan. Many Uzbeks also live in neighboring regions of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Even today Uzbeks live close to the land, most of the engaged in farming and other rural occupations.

The extended family and neighborhood play extremely important roles in the lives of the Uzbeks. Senior family members, elders of the neighborhood, and older people in general are shown great respect. Although many social activities are organized in Uzbek neighborhoods and villages, men and woman are segregated by sex at many of them. Under Soviet rule, some Uzbeks had considerable contact with Russians, but few have experience with individuals from the West. Nonetheless, they are thrilled to meet individuals who wish to learn about and appreciate their rich culture.

Even Uzbeks of modest means are extremely generous toward their guests. When a stranger arrives at an Uzbek household, he is first invited and offered tea and other refreshments. Only then does the host ask who the guest is and why he has come.

Uzbek etiquette is very elaborate. For example, it is considered impolite to enter or exit a room before a person of higher status. Frequently a group of Uzbeks will pause before entering a building to insist that someone else enter first. The intricacies of such courtesies may take a long time to learn.

When Uzbek men meet, they greet each other with their right hand on their chest. Generally, the younger man initiates the greeting and then the senior one responds. The senior man may extend a hand for a handshake, but it is not the custom for the younger one to do so first.

When Uzbek women meet they often use a different form of greeting than do men. When adult women greet each other or youths they place their right hand on the left shoulder of the other person. But when a woman greets an adult man she places her right hand on her chest and generally maintains a distance from him.

Upon greeting a woman, an Uzbek man does not extend his hand to her. If the woman reaches out to the man in such encounters, he may respond by extending his hand for a handshake.

Such customs are more strictly observed in rural areas. In big cities, especially in Tashkent, any Uzbeks have adopted Russian habits. For example, woman in larger cities are more likely to shake a man's hand. The Russian ways are especially common among younger people.

Dialogues[edit]

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio: uploadupload (131 + 142 kb • help)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Greetings
Donald Assalomu alaykum!
Erkin Vaalaykum assalom! Xush kelibsiz! Marhamat, kiring.
Donald Rahmat!
Second Dialogue
Donald Mening ismim Donald. Men Kaliforniyadan keldim.
Erkin Xush kelibsiz! Marhamat, keling. Mening ismim Erkin. Men oʻqituvchiman.
Donald Men Oʻzbek tilini oʻrganyapman. Men Oʻzbekistonda ishlamoqchiman.
Third Dialogue
Erkin Yaxshimisiz? Ishlaringiz yaxshimi?
Donald Rahmat! Ishlarim juda yaxshi. Sizning ishlaringiz qanday?
Erkin Mening ishlarim ham yaxshi
Fourth Dialogue
Donald Kechiring. Men Qaytaman.
Erkin Xayr! Yaxshi boring.
Donald Xoʻp, xayr! Yaxshi qoling.

Vocabulary[edit]

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Vocabulary
Assalomu alaykum! Peace to You (A Muslim Greeting)
Vaalaykum Assalom! And Peace to You (The Response)
Xush well, good
kelibsiz you have come (after all) (past tense of inference)
Xush kelibsiz Welcome
Marhamat Please
kirmoq to enter (infinitive)
kiring come in (imperative, singular or plural polite)
Rahmat Thank you
men I
mening my
ismim my name (possessive)
Kalaforniyadan from California (ablative case)
keldim I came (definite past tense)
keling come (imperative, singular or plural)
Erkin Erkin (name, masculine)
oʻqituvchiman I am a teacher (noun predicate)
Oʻzbek Uzbek
oʻzbek tilini the Uzbek language (possessive, accusative case)
oʻrganyapman I am studying (continuous present)
Oʻzbekistonda in Uzbekistan (locative case)
ishlamoqchiman I plan to work, I want to work
yaxshi good, well
-mi question particle
yaxshimi? is it good?
yaxshimisiz? how are you?
ishlaringiz your affairs, your work
ishlaringiz yaxshimi? how are things?
ishlarim my affairs, my work
juda very
sizning your
ishlaringiz qanday? how are you
mening my
ishlarim ham yaxshi everything is fine with me, too
kechiring excuse me (imperative)
qaytaman* I have to go, I will go (present future)
xayr goodbye
boring go (imperative, singular or plural)
yaxshi boring go in peace
xoʻp fine, all right, O.K.
qoling stay, remain (imperative)
yaxshi qoling stay in peace

*(is Qaytaman "I will go", or "I will return")

Grammar and Vocabulary Explanations[edit]

For Dialogue 1[edit]

The greeting Assalomu Alaykum! is a very common expression throughout the Muslim world, among Uzbeks it is especially common in the more conservative rural areas. It is from an Arabic greeting meaning peace be upon you! The invariable response must be Vaalaykum Assalom! which is also from an Arabic greeting meaning I also wish you peace!

Uzbeks also have other greetings used for different times of day. The most appropriate response for any of these greetings is to repeat the greeting.

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Forms of Greeting
Xayrli erta! Good Morning!
Xayrli kun! Good Afternoon!
Xayrli oqshom! Good Evening!
Xayrli kech! Good Night!
Yaxshimisiz! How are you?
Omonmisiz! How are you?
Esonmisiz! How are you?
Salom! Hello

Omonmisiz! is mostly used by woman.

For Dialogue 2[edit]

From Previous Lessons:

Standard Uzbek has both singular and plural pronouns:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Pronouns
Singular Plural
men I biz we
sen you siz you
u he, she, it ular they

The second person pronoun sen is used to address one or more friends and equals or those who are younger or familiar. Siz must be used to address those who are older or unfamiliar, and also to address more than one person.

The third person pronoun у can refer to males, females, or things. Gender can be determined from context.

Mening ('my') is a possessive form of the personal pronoun men. The singular and plural possessive forms of the personal pronouns are:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Pronouns (Possessive)
Singular Plural
mening my bizning our
sening your sizning your
uning his, her, its ularning their

The possessive forms of the personal pronouns can be omitted when a noun already reflects possession.

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Example
Mening ismim - Erkin. 'My name+my is Erkin'
Ismim - Erkin 'Name+my is Erkin'

The suffix -man 'I am', expresses person and is a noun predicate. The singular and plural noun suffixes in standard Uzbek are:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Noun Suffixes
Singular Plural
-man 'I am' -miz 'we are'
-san 'you are' -siz 'you are'
(no suffix) he, she, it is -lar they are

The subject pronoun may be omitted in a sentence where one of these predicate suffixes are used.

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Example
Men oʻqituvchiman. Oʻqituvchiman.
'I (am a) teacher+I am' 'Teacher+I am'

For Dialogue 3[edit]

The plural suffix is -lar. It is added to the stem of the noun:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Plural suffix (-lar)
Singular Plural
talaba student talabalar students
ish work ishlar works

When the Uzbeks ask someone about his well-being they usually use expressions like Ishlaringiz qanday? (How are you?), Ishlaringiz yaxshimi? (How are things?). The response may be Yaxshi (Good), Ishlarim Yaxshi (Everything is fine), or Rahmat (Thanks).

The question particle is -mi. In order to form an interrogative sentence this particle is added only to the predicate of a sentence:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Question Particle Example
U talabami? Is he a student?

Pronunciation[edit]

Questions formed with the help of the particle -mi are pronounced with a rising intonation. In the sentence Ishlaringiz yaxshimi? (How are things?), the peak of intonation is on the second syllable of yaxshi.

Questions formed with the help of the interrogative words like qanday (how) are pronounced with falling intonation. In the sentence Ishlaringiz qanday? (How are you?), the low point of intonation is on the second syllable of qanday.

For Dialogue 4[edit]

As Uzbeks take leave of one another, they commonly exchange a series of expressions meaning goodbye. Some of these are:

Uzbek Dialogue • Lesson One • Gnome-speakernotes.pngaudio (upload)
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Forms of Greeting
Xayr! Goodbye!
Xayr, Yaxshi boring! Goodbye, go in peace!
Koʻrishguncha! See you later!
Uchrashguncha! Meet you later!
Ertagʻacha Until Tomorrow
Tuningiz xayrli boʻlsin! Good night!


The parting expression Xayr! may be used at any time of day. The expression Xayr, yaxshi qoling! is used by a guest or by the person taking leave. The expression Xayr, yakshi boring! is used by a host or by the person staying.

The Uzbek word xoʻp has many meanings, including 'fine,' 'very well,' 'agreed,' 'all right,' and 'O.K.' Uzbeks use xoʻp and yaxshi much as English speakers use 'fine', and 'good'.

Recap[edit]

Congratulations! You can know have your first ever conversation in Uzbek—and that wasn't that hard either? Was it?

In future editions of this book we might have exercises and such, so that you can practice what you learned, and really get it to soak in—and also so you can double check and make sure you know it. But they aren't available just yet :)

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