LING 068 — Spring 2022
Structure of Kyrgyz

Professor:Jonathan North Washington
Office:Pearson 105
Office phone:x6134
Office hours:T 13:30-15:00
& by appointment
also available by messaging on Google Chat/Hangouts
Meeting time:M 1:15pm-4:00pm
Meeting modality:Mixed (in person as possible)
Physical classroom:Pearson 005
Online classroom:Zoom (see Moodle for meeting URL)
Course website:
Course Moodle site: S22 - LING068.01

Course Description

Kyrgyz is a Turkic language which is spoken throughout the Tien-Shan mountains and surrounding areas of Central Asia and has been influenced by Mongolian, Persian, Arabic, and Russian.

Students will examine all main areas of Kyrgyz grammar, with a focus on the major phonological, morphological, and syntactic structures of the language. Some of the topics we’ll look at in depth include vowel harmony, sonority effects across syllable boundaries, morphological and syntactic strategies for using one part of speech as another, and intricate systems for marking tense, aspect, mood, voice, and evidentiality. We’ll also talk about historical and contemporary social and cultural contexts for the language.

Assignments and class activities will involve hands-on exploration of primary and secondary printed and digital materials and interaction with Kyrgyz speakers, with the aim of building students’ skills in linguistic analysis and reasoning, as well as their understanding of the range of perspectives involved in linguistic study of a language and the community it’s used in.

Additionally, besides self-contained weekly assignments, each student will choose one linguistic and one non-linguistic source on relevant topics to read and present to the class at some point during the semester. There will also be a final project (on a topic chosen in consultation with the professor) and a final presentation on the project.


Students who complete this course will have gained the following (knowledge goals):

Additionally, they will have gained the following (skills goals):

Furthermore, it's my hope that you'll gain an appreciation for the value of exploring an unfamiliar language in depth: that the more you work with a language, the more you find interesting and unexpected things.

Required Materials

Print resources

There are no required textbooks for the course; however, there are a number of resources that you should know about. The following resources are on reserve in the library:

Online resources

As directed and needed, the class will take place on Zoom. The URL and password are posted on Moodle.

You'll need to be able to access Moodle ( as well. Additional resources will be available—including required materials for the course, updated course information, and assignments—so make sure you can access it as soon as possible. If you have any trouble with it, notify me as soon as you can.

N.B. BiCo students may not have access to Moodle immediately at the beginning of the semester. Let me know if this is the case for you, and I will make sure you have access to resources in some other way.

The course website (listed above, and linked to from the Moodle course) contains the schedule for the semester and this syllabus. I'll mostly put updates and new materials on Moodle this semester, so will be sure to make announcements about any major changes to the website.

In addition, you will need to be able to perform the following tasks with your device:

Please let me know if any of this is a problem.

Office Hours

I hold regular office hours (listed above), and can be available at other times by appointment—just send me an e-mail letting me know when you might prefer to meet.

If you are having any trouble with class, such as with understanding a concept or completing an assignment, please don't hesitate to ask me for help. I'm here to help you learn, so I encourage you to take advantage of my availability.

But even if you're not having trouble, it never hurts to come to office hours from time to time. We can discuss course content, ideas for the final project, or whatever's on your mind in a more relaxed atmosphere.


Course etiquette

Show up on time and silence cell phones. Food and drinks are generally not allowed in lab, per the policies for the room. However, I don't mind as long as you don't damage the equipment or disturb your classmates. If you need to step out of the class for any reason (bathroom, emergency phone call, etc.), please do so with minimum disruption (i.e., don't ask for permission).

Due to the nature of the course, we will be using computers in almost every class. This brings about the potential for a number of distractions, so please use the computer only for relevant classroom activities. In other words, please refrain from any sort of non-class-related activities, including messaging (e-mail, social media, etc.), homework for other courses, or even catching up on course reading. Even the best multitaskers are still not participating fully when they're engaging in unrelated endeavours. If it's too difficult to avoid the temptation of these other distractions, you may try strategies like disabling the computer's internet connection, using a filter for web usage, or similar.

Note on pronouns: I'm happy to be referred to by any pronoun, and welcome all of you to share the pronouns you would like to be referred to by in this class. If you notice anyone using the wrong pronouns, including me, please feel free to let us know so we can get it right.

Class material

All material covered during course-related activities—including assigned readings, quizzes, and labs—should be assumed to be required course content, and will be assumed background for later activities. It is each student's responsibility to attend all classes to learn the material covered. If you must miss a class (e.g., for an athletic or religious reason), it is courteous to notify your professor ahead of time if at all possible, but it will be your responsibility to learn about missed material. (That said, let me know if you're having trouble making something up, and we'll figure something out.) With so few class meetings dedicated to each topic and the cumulative nature of the topics, missing one day can be a very big deal—so I really recommend trying not to miss class. Also see COVID considerations below.

Any excuse for missing any course-related activities will need to be handled by your class dean. Please see the Medical Excuse Policy (, and remember to contact your class dean as soon as you can so that they can work with you.

I am available if you need additional support, as are many resources across campus which I can direct you to. Please let me know if you think I might be able to help.

Turning in assignments on time

Assignments will generally be due on Moodle by the end of the day on Thursday. This gives me enough time to grade them before class on Monday. Completion of the assignment is necessary for engaging with the week's topic, so it is essential that assignments be submitted on time.

Any assignments submitted late will be evaluated and feedback will be provided, but a grade of 0 will be recorded.

Academic Integrity

Using words or ideas from another source without attribution constitutes plagiarism, and misrepresenting another student's work as your own (or allowing another student to misrepresent your work as their own) is cheating. Please see the student handbook for the College's policies on academic misconduct ( Suspected cases of academic misconduct will be pursued to the full extent of College policy, including referral to the College Judicial Committee.

You are always expected to write up your own assignments. However, you may (and are encouraged to) discuss assignments with one another. Just be sure to cite others' ideas when you use them, and always write the name of anyone you worked with.

In short, submitting work that is not your own or providing a classmate with a solution outright will be considered academic misconduct and will be addressed as such (see above-mentioned policies). So please just be honest. And if you have any questions about what's considered acceptable, ask me first.

COVID-19 considerations


Let us implement as a class a few policies related to the ongoing pandemic in an effort to keep as many people safe as possible. Not all students on campus are vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and members of my household are not currently eligible for vaccination. I am a potential vector for virus transmission in both directions. These individuals represent both added risk to and added vulnerability in our community. The policies below were designed to keep everyone involved as safe as possible. I also want to make sure that everyone keeps in mind the continuing risk and vulnerability in our community.

There are some special considerations to take into account given that some of this course may be conducted online.

Course feedback

There's a form on Moodle for anonymous feedback on the course. I encourage everyone to periodically consider what's going well and what they would like to see changed about the course and let me know via the form.

Alternate arrangements

If you are vulnerable and need to make alternate arrangements because you or someone you live with has health or other issues that put you at higher risk, please reach out and make alternate arrangements with me as soon as possible. I don't need to know any details, just that you deem your situation to be high risk and would like alternate arrangements.

Masking (full policy decided by class participants)

College policy is that masks must be worn at all times in classrooms, so please make sure that you practice correct and consistent mask use during class. If you're not entirely sure what this entails, I'd be happy to help clarify.

Due to the limited effectiveness of cloth face-coverings in limiting the spread of recent variants of COVID-19, and despite the fact that College policy may not require it, I'd like to ask that everyone wear N95, KN95, or equivalent respirators during in-person instruction. A mask of this sort can be provided for you to use if needed. They may be reused multiple times; please look up guidance on that. Wearing a cloth mask over a disposable surgical mask is another allowed option.

Recent College communications have said that masks may be lowered when speaking in class. However, due to the safety issues involved, I need to ask that you not do that.

We will decide on class-specific rules to determine whether masks may be lowered briefly to drink or not, based on the most conservative level of comfort in the room. If you have any concerns about any of this, or questions about what was decided, please let me know. Class policy may be adjusted accordingly after the initial decision, but only in a more conservative direction. You may submit anonymous comments through the anonymous course feedback area on Moodle (and, of course, I won't retaliate or reveal your identity to anyone even if you tell me your concerns directly).


The College is not requiring or recommending any sort of physical distancing. However, in the interest of everyone's safety, I would like to ask that an effort be made. Please try to space your seating away from others as possible, and try to maintain reasonable distance from others.

Hybrid class, recording classes (full policy decided by class participants)

I plan to "live-stream" every class meeting by having a computer logged in to Zoom. This allows for hybrid instruction whenever needed, for example if someone is not able to physically come to class (e.g., if you are required to quarantine or isolate; see also illness sections below).

I would also like to record every class, because there may be days when some of you are not able to attend at all, even online, and will want to use the recording to review the material. We will discuss on the first day whether everyone is okay with this.

If we do decide to record classes, then these recordings may not be shared with anyone outside of this class!

Online instruction considerations

Social time. The course meeting platform should allow students to join any time, even when I am not present. I encourage everyone to arrive a few minutes early if possible to just hang out and get to know your classmates better. Furthermore, the meeting is recurring (meaning we'll use the same link for all our meetings this semester), so you may use the meeting any time outside of class time as well, e.g. to discuss assignments with one another or similar.

At the end of each class, I will also wait to leave the meeting until everyone else has left. This is to encourage you to stick around if there's anything you'd like to talk about.

Communication during class. During online instruction, the Zoom chat will be available for use during class. We may leverage it for certain purposes, but I don't expect most of our interactions to take place through that modality. If you'd like to speak and can't find a moment to interject into whatever is going on, please raise your hand physically so that I can see in the video, or use the Zoom hand-raising feature. I may not notice either, so you may also simply interrupt if needed. There will probably be a lot of awkwardness around these issues, and that's okay.

Engagement. I expect everyone to engage with the course (see "Engagement" below), but I recognise that engagement will look different for every student. This applies regardless of modality, although the range of what engagement will look like will depend on modality. See also the section on course etiquette above.

Camera privacy. When conducting class online, no one is required to turn on their camera if they don't want to. I do hope that most of you will become comfortable turning on your cameras in most environments, and encourage you to build your comfort with this if you haven't yet. It is especially okay to disable your camera if the class is being recorded.

Student illness

If you are feeling unwell, and your symptoms are consistent with COVID, please do not come to class in person. The slightest sniffle, headache, scratchy throat, etc., is a legitimate excuse for missing class, as long as you make an effort to make up any material you miss. I do not need details and will not require any sort of formal excuse for you to miss class in person. However, if you must miss class entirely (i.e., are not able to join virtually), please be in touch.

If you're unable to attend class in person and are feeling up to it, you are encouraged to attend class virtually. While this is a no-questions-asked policy, please try not to make a habit of attending virtually if instruction is otherwise in person. This option should only be reserved for cases of illness or other situations out of your control.

If you must miss class, regardless of modality, you should strive to make up any material you missed. To make up material, please start by consulting with a classmate and the relevant class recording (if we decide to make recordings), and I will be available to help fill in the gaps.

Professor illness

I will also plan not to show up to class in person if I'm feeling any symptoms of illness, or if I have to quarantine due to an illness in my household. In this situation, if I am able, I will conduct class online. I will just ask that one of you who does show up in person log into the virtual classroom on the projector in the physical classroom (e.g., using the classroom computer) so that everyone in the classroom is able to interact with me. I may also ask Media Services to assist with this. I will try to let everyone know ahead of time so that you may choose to attend the virtual class from home if you prefer. If illness prevents me from joining even online on a given day, you should still expect notification before the beginning of class.

Office hours

I will be in my office (or the Phonetics Lab) during regularly scheduled in-person office hours, but I am also happy to meet using our online classroom, either during that time or during a different time. Please first message me at my Swarthmore email address on Google Hangouts or Google Chat, and I'll let you know whether I'm available or not (no response means not available). Consider this the equivalent of knocking on my office door. I won't be sitting on Zoom waiting for students to join the meeting during office hours, but if I'm available, I will get a notification if you message me on one of those services. We can also conduct the entire conversation through chat if you'd like. This is an option outside of regular office hours too, though I cannot guarantee an immediate response at other times. And as always, if regular office hours are not convenient, I'm happy to schedule a meeting at another time—just send me a message (by email or one of the chat services) and let me know what might be convenient for you.

Ongoing revision

We may revise these and other COVID-related class practices as needed and as appropriate throughout the semester. College policy may change, for example, and we can adjust accordingly. My priority in all this, again, is our collective and individual health and safety.

Keep in mind that the course schedule may be adjusted as part of this revision; I will keep you updated on all of this.


Most of your assignments will be graded with a fine-grained measure of completion and engagement with the concepts based on normal letters grades and grade points (A = 4.0, B = 3.0, C = 2.0, D = 1.0, and F = 0.0), with the standard modifiers + (one-third of a grade point higher) and - (one-third of a grade point lower). In addition, intermediate grades using parentheses or a slash may be used, giving the following correspondence between letter grade and grade points:


What you will be graded on for each assignment varies in specifics, but generally it will include doing your best at solving the problem(s) presented, and completion of the assignment. It doesn't have to be perfect to earn a good grade, but it should be done thoughtfully and with care.

Course Grade Components

The final grade in this course is broken down into the following components. Each component is expounded upon following the table.
Weekly assignments:50%
Reading presentations:10%
Final project proposal:5%
Final project presentation:10%
Final project write-up:15%

Weekly assignments (50%)

Each week an assignment will be due that may involve solving problems and/or responding to a reading for the week. These are due submitted to Moodle at the beginning of the class they are assigned for. See above for late policy.

Engagement (10%)

I do not grade on attendance, but you will be graded on engagement in the class, and this requires attendance. Beyond simply showing up and participating, you're encouraged to contribute to discussions by asking questions, answering questions, making relevant comments, helping classmates with in-class activities, etc. You will not be ridiculed for asking even simple questions—I want to make sure everyone grasps the concepts, and many are not as straightforward as they may first seem (or as I think they are). You are also expected to have read any assigned readings before class.

Reading presentations (10%)

Each student will present two readings, selected by the student from available options, over the course of the semester. The presentations will generally be conducted during class time on Zoom. One reading will be on a linguistic topic and one on a "peripheral" topic, including socio-cultural or historical issues.

Each presentation should begin by summarising the main point or points of the paper, and then go into the supporting details. You may also consult other sources to support your presentation, but don't forget to mention you got information that wasn't in the primary reading. For example, if an article about a social issue is out of date, you might look up new statistics or whether a particular situation the article discusses has changed. You may also consult Kyrgyz speakers about opinions or grammaticality judgements when possible and appropriate, or find a video online to demonstrate some culturally specific activity. You should use some visual aid for your presentation, such as slides, graphs, pictures, etc.

Final project proposal (5%)

The paper or project will go into depth on an issue of linguistic, social, cultural, or historical relevance to Kyrgyz and/or its speakers. Other types of projects (e.g., artistic or engineering projects) relevant to the course material are also possible with approval.

The final project proposal consists of two parts: (1) a short (~1 page) list outlining several possible topics for the final project, due around the middle of the semester for discussion with me to help limit the topic, and (2) a short (1-2 page) formal proposal, due about a month before the final paper is due, outlining the topic/question of your paper, your preliminary thoughts on it, some sources you're already engaging with, and your plan going forward. These assignments are designed to ensure that you are making progress on your project long before it's due. More information on these steps will be made available later.

Final project presentation (10%)

Short presentations (~15 minutes) of work in progress for the final project will be presented during the final exam period for the class. More information will be made available later.

Final project write-up (15%)

A final paper or project will be due during finals period, [hopefully] after the presentations [depending on timing]. More information will be made available later.


If you believe you need accommodations for a disability or a chronic medical condition, please contact Student Disability Services via email at to arrange an appointment to discuss your needs. As appropriate, the office will issue students with documented disabilities or medical conditions a formal Accommodations Letter. Since accommodations require early planning and are not retroactive, please contact Student Disability Services as soon as possible. For details about the accommodations process, visit the Student Disability Services website ( You are also welcome to contact me privately to discuss your academic needs. However, all disability-related accommodations must be arranged, in advance, through Student Disability Services.

Course outline (subject to revision)

(on Monday)
1 26 Jan

Preparation week

2 24 Jan

Course outline

Sound system

Preparation week assignment

3 31 Jan

Sound system

Writing systems

Morphology and phonology

Assignment 1

Abigail Kaun (2004) - The Typology of Rounding Harmony

4 07 Feb

More morphology and phonology

Pronouns and copulas

Assignment 2

Hanzhi Zhu (2018) - Sonorant Restrictions in Kyrgyz

5 14 Feb

Nominal morphology

Assignment 3

Bernard Comrie (1997) - Turkic languages and linguistic typology

6 21 Feb

More nouns



Assignment 4

Bonnie Krejci & Lelia Glass (2015) - The Kazakh Noun/Adjective Distinction

7 28 Feb

The lexicon, dictionaries

Assignment 5

Final project topic selection (Fri.)

07 Mar Spring break!
8 14 Mar

Tense/aspect system

Assignment 6

Irina Nevskaya & Saule Tazhibayeva (2018) - The category of proximative in North-Western Turkic: Kazakh and Kirgiz in a comparative perspective

9 21 Mar

Dumpling day!

discussion of movie

10 28 Mar


Assignment 7

Nedjalkov (2003) - Kirghiz reciprocals (/2)

11 04 Apr


Assignment 8

Final project proposal (Wed.)

Christopher Straughn (2011) - Evidentiality in Uzbek and Kazakh (additional resource)

12 11 Apr

Non-finite verb forms

Assignment 9

Lars Johanson (1995) - On Turkic converb clauses

13 18 Apr


"Modal nominals"


Assignment 10

Jendraschek (2001) - Semantic and structural properties of Turkish ideophones

14 25 Apr

Kyrgyz and other Turkic languages

The history of Turkic

Assignment 11

Jonathan Washington (2013) - Turkic-Turkic convergence in Altay varieties


Final project presentations!