William Z. Shetter, a “retired university professor of foreign language and linguistics” and author of Dutch: An Essential Grammar, has been adding two “mini-essays” about language per month [thanks, Anatoly!] to his site since Oct. 1, 1998, ranging from English grammar to grammatical devices in many languages to languages in history and many other topics. His essay on Chinese Turkestan, for example, starts with a reminder that there’s more to Asia than you might think, goes on to describe the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (formerly known as East Turkestan), lists the three main language families of the area (Sinitic, Tibeto-Burman, and Turkic), focuses in on Uyghur (the main Turkic language), and delves into the history (recapping the discovery of Tokharian). Lots of interesting material, and I’m impressed that he’s been keeping it up for five years!

(Via the Enigmatic Mermaid, who also has a post about the Brazilian singer/composer Chico Buarque‘s new novel Budapeste, in the Merm’s words “an excellent novel whose backbone is the fascination with a foreign language. This protagonist will go any lengths to learn it.” I can only hope it gets translated soon! The only other reference I’ve found to it in English is at Skloog’s Bloogs, where you can see photos of the book and the comment “Maybe just because I’m deep into reading Budapest from Chico Buarque… That book is SO great…”)


  1. I think you forgot to say “two mini-essays per month…”

  2. D’oh! You’re right. Thanks, I’ll correct it now.

  3. About one every biweek?

  4. From what I can tell from viewing the site, it’s not Chinese he’s talking about but a Indo-European language. Sure, it has Chinese influences, but Chinese and indo-european (from what I know) have few similiarities.
    Although the post does do a good job of reminding me of just how big China really is. Even from someone living there.

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