On Tuesday, June 27, 2023, as part of the second “COIL-type University Education Promotion Project with Turkmenistan,” Dr. Masahiro Oku, a specially appointed researcher in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Tsukuba, delivered a special lecture dedicated to the comparison of Japanese and Turkmen languages. Dr. Oku had previously taught the Japanese language course at the Azadi University of World Languages. Students and faculty members from the School of Oriental Languages at the Azadi University of World Languages participated in the online lecture through Zoom.
The interactive lecture included questions and covered phylogenetic relations between Japanese and Turkmen languages, pronunciation (“n” and n, ň, “u” and u, y), contrapositional suffixes, and accusative forms. It provided an opportunity to consider the differences and similarities between the Japanese and Turkmen languages.
In the introduction to this lecture, Dr. Oku discussed the phylogeny of Japanese and Turkmen languages, as well as the Altaic language family hypothesis, which had previously suggested that: (1) there are consonants that appear to correspond; (2) neither language has words that start with r; and (3) there is a theory that Japanese had vowel harmony. It was explained how Japanese and Turkmen phylogenies had previously been considered in the same context.
Dr. Oku also gave a presentation on how to study and teach the pronunciation of “n” and “u” – which Turkmen learners of Japanese should pay special attention to, by contrasting it with the Turkmen pronunciation. The findings also confirmed that the omission of the contralateral suffix in both languages is caused by different rules: in Japanese, it is omitted in spoken Japanese, and in Turkmen, it is not used when the object is indefinite. In the case of the causal form, there are many instances where Turkmen may be used in the causal form that Japanese cannot be used in, and this is a good starting point for considering the characteristics of the two languages.
At the end of the lecture, the audience asked many insightful questions, such as: “Should detailed pronunciation instructions be given at the first-year stage of the language introduction? The “COIL-type University Education Promotion Project with Turkmenistan,” which provides classes at the University of Tsukuba, will continue, with a total of five lectures planned for this fiscal year.