Edit: As some errors were apparently introduced into the subtitles in the final stages of production, Elise Anderson (who wrote the original subtitles) has temporarily taken the video down in order to restore the correct text. Watch this space.

Years ago, Uyghur author Memtimin Hoshur (b. 1944) wrote a short story called “Sarang.” We might translate the title as “Crazy.” Like many of Memtimin’s stories, “Sarang” is a dark comedy and work of social commentary, and it begins with the conceit that the whole thing was written not by Memtimin himself, but by a manic author named Osman, who also appears as a character in the story.

That story became a movie, which is now available on YouTube, complete with English-language subtitles! If you only watch one Uyghur film, make it “Sarang.” The story is told through scenes of everyday sociability: men playing cards, husbands and wives, people telling jokes and just shooting the shit, getting brought in to the local police station. It’s a good introduction to Uyghur society through one of the greatest works of modern Uyghur literature.

But you don’t need me to convince you. You can watch the whole thing here:

Eastern Turki Goes Digital

I am proud to announce the first ever Eastern Turki-English-Eastern Turki online glossary.*

An old friend and colleague, Niko Kontovas, who is a linguist, polyglot, and Turkic language specialist, turned my digital version of the Raquette glossary of Eastern Turki into a searchable database.

At this stage, the site is only a few days old, and it is very much in beta. Currently, the dataset only includes the Raquette glossary, so it’s really just a searchable dictionary of colloquial Turkic from turn-of-the-century Kashgaria. In the future, however, we intend to include a tool for submitting new entries, which should make it easy to add data from the Eastern Turki and Chaghatay glossaries produced by de Courteille and others over a century ago. Given the extent of the textual record, and the increasing availability of digital copies of written materials, it will be possible in future to add a great deal of data to the corpus.

This has been a dream of mine for some time: to make the historical languages of Central Asia easier to access, easier to learn, easier to use for study and scholarship. I’ve struggled at times with finding the appropriate tools, and I’m very grateful to Niko for putting his skills to use and making the database happen. We will maintain and expand this as long as possible.

* With the exception of the entries in this database.