Or comments by Zira Naurzbayeva and instructor of the project “Koblandy-by heart” headed by Zemphira Erzhan to the book by N.F. Zamyatkina “It is possible to teach you the foreign language”.
And really why? In the Soviet Union Baltic nations spoke with the accent and Georgians and even beloved in the Soviet Union actors had accents but most of Kazakh spoke without the accent. In past I believed that it was just our subjective perception as we just do not notice our accent but later numerous compliments of the fine Russian language in Kazakhstan forced us to admit that we really do not have the accent when we speak Russian.
Maybe Kazakh people have more perfect linguistic apparatus or better genetic abilities to learn languages? As at the level of proverbs Kazakh nomads considered normal to “travel across 7 passings and know 7 languages (however, I, as a mythologist, think that at the beginning the matter was not only in real people languages but also shaman languages and languages of different levels of the other world).
However, this flattering explanation did not work. According to the evidence of M.Magauin in a publicistic essay, which title maybe translated as “Call for denationalization” in 60s-70s of 20 century Kazakh themselves derided hard those Kazakh who spoke Russian with the accent like they do now deriding for the accent those asphalt Kazakh trying to speak Kazakh.
Kazakh got rid of the accent for such a short for respect of historical scale period whereas, for example, Georgians in spite of declared in Tsar and Soviet time closeness of Christian nations, their elithes were retaining strikingly the pronounced accent for centuries. Explanation of this situation with the accent was found in an interesting book by original technique creator of individual learning of a foreign language N.F.Zamyatkin.
“Accent (including intonation) is just outward symptom of tearing away a foreign language, and indicator of the fact that the language is an alien body for the accent owner”(p 170).
So the fact that Kazakh people do not have the accent tells that they first are open to completely new besides Kazakh nomads are imitative (that I mentioned in 1990s in the article “Culture of nomads and present Kazakh mentality”), second, the Kazakh willing to incorporate in the new Soviet culture it is not the attempt to illustrate Uzbekish proverb “If you want to be Russian first become Kazakh”. Kazakh Ord for many years was resisting Russian invasion in Central Asia. Russia subdued all Siberia and Far East and only afterwards annexated rendered lifeless because of wars with Kalmyk Kazakhstan whereas just a couple of military dispatches were enough to conquer Buhara and Kokand. Henocide from 1920s to 1930s left Kazakh nation no choice so we had to prove Bolshevik who sentenced all Kazakh to death that our nation was capable to advances and development).
One more thought on forming a new “I” of a man learning a foreign language drew our attention much more in the linguist practical worker reasoning.
Of course, in the middle of 20 century Vilgelm fon Gumboldt showed how in the language (in a sound, word meaning, ways of word formation, grammar) national peculiarities and nation character are revealed. “Pronouncing the word we do not imagine the object itself, that staggers our feelings but convey our view of an object at the moment when this word is invented”. Vitgenshtein imagines the language as a prism in the light of which we are doomed to see the world. According to M.Polany the language is “the theory of the things nature”, the theory of universum, invented by some group of people.
That means that learning a language a men to some extent acquires a new “theory of universum”, national mentality. But N.Zamyatkin is not a philosopher, he is a practical worker, a foreign language teacher so he generalizes the experience of such kind.
“Transition to other reality of a new language takes place simultaneously with appearance in a man some new “I”. It is obvious, that we our “I” is so much connected with words, language we speak, that it just can not happen. When we transit in a new language reality , perhaps just deeply hidden somewhere inside a new, quite strongly different from the old our “I” appears in us, reveals itself. This phenomenon is well known for Intelligent Services which quite often and successfully recruit agents among people learning foreign languages. Leaving their old “I” and groping their way, blindly searching, creating a new “I”, this new for them role as the role of an agent of Secret Service of the country which language is learnt by them…
Almost every time this new “foreign” “I” is revealed in the things that in a new language you can speak and think! The things which you would never speak about in your own native language. The old restrictions like “possible-impossible”, “good-bad”, “moral-amoral” weaken, fail or completely stop working” (Zamyatkin, p.41).
A striking interchange with the thoughts of our great contemporary Serikbola Kondybay (1968-2004) who was dreaming to “Awake to life, actualize the weakened but still alive in the souls and blood of contemporary Kazakh nation the immortal architypes, attitude and belief of a “different”, “internal”, “eternal” Kazakh… Sacramental, Eternal Motherland of Kazakh is not related to actual geography, the way to this forgotten unknown country is going to the depth of our consciousness , our internal “I” of each Kazakh”(Book 1. Translation from Kazakh into Russian by Z.Naurzbayeva . Almaty-city. Saga 2011 p.9-10).
S.Kondybay considered mythology and Kazakh language to be the main key to the entry into this sacramental world (by the way Zamyatkin starts speaking as a mythologist at some moment “transition into other reality of a new language”). And the matter is not related to language knowledge at colloquial or office level but to acquiring its symbolic or philosophical richness.
“Kazakh language is the way between two points, two gate ways. The first gateways which are the entry are very low and tight and the way that is opening behind them resembles a tight track. That is why in order to enter them it is necessary to bow the head, stoop and move almost crawling. But the tight cave is getting more spacious and higher with each step. The cave exit is the Great Gateways. In order to get to know the language, to become a Kazakh it is necessary on all fours to get into the tight track. However, after this man will complete this way with proudly raised head. It is a new birth, initiation, initiative trial. It is not easy to endure this trial but the most important thing to start this way under no compulsion, under own will to kneel”(Kondybay. Mythology of fore Kazakh. Book 2. Translation from Kazakh into Russian. Almaty-city. Saga, 2011 p 72).
Return to the native language should not be formal, it is chance for Russian speaking Kazakh to acquire absolutely new spiritual experience, touch own inner often deeply hidden “I” and get a powerful vigourous breeding ground from the eternal sacred source.
This approach, as far as I know, was realized only in one method of Kazakh language learning “Koblandy-by heart” by Zemfira Erzhan. These project participants learn by heart the lines of the immortal epos with the help of instructors-linguists, who explain archaisms which help to form the right pronunciation (as the accent signals about tearing away the alien`s body) as well as culturologyst who explains symbolic and mythoritual context of this epos. These pilot project participants who are mature, successful in life and profession people and who often know foreign languages felt the full absorbsion effect in other sacred reality of the spiritual world of our ancestors. It is not surprising that among those participants were grandchildren of 3 prominent Kazakh poets Ilias Dzhansugurov, Saken Seifullin, Nurpeis Baiganin. Fatima Dzhandosova a granddaughter of Ilias and Oraz Dzhandosov, who is a manager on strategic development of one of the biggest in the country non-governmental fund a very busy person wrote on her facebook page about this experience as follows: ”Now I am lerning Kazakh because it turned out the children in our family did not speak Kazakh. I am enjoying the wisdom, logic and beaty of our language and call on everybody to learn it with feeling”.
“Koblandy-by heart” has just one divergence with the method by Zamyatkin who recommends to listen and pronounce loudly thousands times dialogues which are well performed and contain contemporary vocabulary. But we are not learning a foreign language. So we have the different objective. In addition, the Turkic language by the Ancient Turkic Kaganate epoch had already been literary developed and rich that is why afterwards it evolutionized not so strongly. So we do not face the situation like that one that takes place, for example, with the Shakespear creative works, which need to be translated into modern English first. Besides, the remained orally literature heritage was regularly renewed so in essence the epos text fixed the classical Kazakh language of the beginning of the 20 century.
There is one more interesting association. In compliance with the method by Zamyatkin students should first repeated by listen hundreds and thousands times to the audiotape made in the perfect if possible performance and only after that start working with written texts. This auditing is necessary not only to acquire the right pronunciation and intonation but also to create the “reverse response”. In short in order to form a new language “I” and acquire not only letters but also the spirit of the language that is learnt.
Kuishi (folk music) singers and a writer T.Asemkulov while judging the argument between supporters of musical note orientated education and supporters of the traditional, oral learning wrote as follows: “Before starting musical notes students should first listen to the kui itself a lot of times. Then during learning the kui these notes are supposed to play the role only as auxiliary educational supplies. Otherwise the musical record will turn for students into a Math formula because the notes are unable to fix the kui spirit. The kui spirit can be acquired only through the living performance of a real professional. It is this thing that we mean when we speak about the need to listen to the kui a lot of times, because after the kui spirit was acquired, it is not hard to master the art” (T.Asemkulov “Kui art future”).
By the way method by Zamyatkin enables to extend the project “Koblandy-by heart” audience many times as initially this project was designed for students who have at least a little command of Kazakh. Now there is the possibility with some amendments of this method to include those students who start learning from the very beginning.
A videorecord made during the pilot project “Koblandy-by heart” by Zemfira Erzhan can be seen at the address
I have made my culturologyst comments to the first 300 lines of the epos “Koblandy batyr(warrior)” for participants of “Koblandy-by heart” project.