Monday, May 01, 2006

Back to Basics Part 1

Ok, in case there are those very new to Classical Tibetan, let's start with introduction information. Repetition does neither hurt. Here are some basic guidelines how to learn Classical Tibetan.

  • Learn the letters. Spend time understanding them, and how they are drawn. Use a notebook, a whiteboard, or pieces of paper, and draw the letters over and over again until they are etched into your mind. There's another deeper meaning why the images of the letters are good to recognize over and over
  • Learn where words start and end. Tibetan is a language where there's no notation where a word ends, so you need to see patterns, such as པ pa,པོ po, མ ma, མོ mo, བ ba, བོ bo and similar things that naturally separates words, or particles that separate parts from each other.
  • Learn one at at time the most common words, subjects, verbs, adverbs and so on. Again, use your notebook, whiteboard, or something else to draw down words and see them over and over again.
  • There's no need to directly learn how to pronounce the words, unless you want to do a parallel track to learn to translate verbal communication. If this is the case, I strongly recommend to spend time inside a Tibetan community or something similar where you hear the language each and every day. But for translating classical texts, it's Ok if you have a rough idea how to pronounce them -- remember that there are many Tibetan dialects so even if you know one, it does not mean that you understand them all.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your advices. I should definitely reserve a notebook that I could carry around. Maybe the efforts in this lifetime will ripen more quickly in the following... :p

Good day to you Kent

Kent Sandvik said...

Yes, in this age of laptops and smart phones, there's something special about using one's hands to write words and sentences that makes them stick into your mind.

Another cool trick I learned from my teachers was to memorize important quotations, and that adds more vocabulary.

Try to memorize such sentences while walking around -- that's another ancient monastery trick.