A child being carried by an old man in Eastern Qazaqstan.
A child being carried by an old man in Eastern Qazaqstan.
Photo from https://sibexpeditions.ru/east-kazakhstan-expedition/#gallery-6.

ATA is the father of your father. NAǴASHY ATA is the father of your mother. QAIYN ATA is the father of your spouse. The common Qazaq saying, ÁZILIŃ JARASSA, ATAŃMEN OINA [if you’ve got a good joke, you can even tell it to your ATA] — refers to one’s father-in-law. There is also a saying, KÚSH ATASYN TANYMAS [strength does not care about seniority], in which ATA simply means someone who is older than you (whom you are supposed to respect yet shouldn’t let them win just because of their age). ATA also means ancestor, forefather of a clan. “QAI…

“Áıel — úıdegi yrysyń,

[A wife is the riches of your home]

Ul — aıbarly qylyshyń.

[A son is your formidable sword]

Qyz — túzdegi órisiń,

[A daughter is your new relatives from far way]

Kelin — keńeıgen tynysyń.

[A daughter-in-law is your peace]

Qıyamet kórseń de ǵumyrdan,

[Even if you struggle in life]

Tabanyń taımasyn tuǵyrdan

[No need to give up].”

Eskeldi Bı.

The importance of family in a Qazaq’s life cannot be overestimated. …

Qazaqs have described themselves as QYRYQ RÝLY QAZAQ [the forty clan having Qazaqs], KIIZ TUYRLYQTY, “ALASH” URANDY [the yurt living, with “Alash” as the battle cry], and KEREGEMIZ — AǴASH, URANYMYZ — “ALASH” [the frame of our yurt is wood, and our battle cry is “Alash”].

ALASH is the alternative endonym of the Qazaqs. Following the tradition of personification of history, Qazaqs believed that ALASH KHAN was a real person, a forefather of all Turkic peoples, whose three sons — AQARYS, JANARYS and BEKARYS — are the founding fathers of the three Qazaq juzes. …

Cartoon depicting seven men in an ancestry line.
Cartoon depicting seven men in an ancestry line.
Photo from https://ok.ru/blenbrosyn/topic/70321141617994.

For Qazaqs, any normal person should know the names of their seven direct ancestors. The terms for these ancestors are: ÁKE, ATA, BABA, ARǴY ATA, BABA, TÚP ATA, TEK ATA [father, grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather, etc.].

There are sayings, JETI ATASYN BILMEGEN — JETESIZDIK [not knowing one’s seven ancestors is foolishness]; TÚBIN BILMEGEN TÚGIN BILMEIDI [one who does not know their origin knows nothing].

Qazaqs, being the natural geneticists and breeders that they were, believed that people’s good and bad qualities are in big part due to their roots — NÁSIL, NEGIZ, TÚBI, TUQYM. Qazaqs believe that…

The name of my father’s RU [clan] — Taz, its seal, and its battle cry, “Baqaı”.
The name of my father’s RU [clan] — Taz, its seal, and its battle cry, “Baqaı”.
The name of my father’s RU [clan] — Taz, its seal, and its battle cry, “Baqaı”. Photo from https://el.kz/news/archive/aza-_rularyny-_-rany_men_ta-basy-_taz_ruy/.

“Erte kúnde otty Kúnnen Ǵun týǵan,

[In the beginning of time, the Hun was born from the fiery Sun,]

Otty Ǵunnan ot bop oınap men týǵam.

[From the fiery Hun, blazing, I was born.]”

M. Jumabaev

A book about language is starting with a chapter about ancestry not just because “you gotta start from the beginning”. Ancestry/lineage/descent — TEK — historically held enormous meaning for Qazaqs. …

Long-sleeve, t-shirt, baseball cap, and water bottle from the Qazaq Republic brand.
Long-sleeve, t-shirt, baseball cap, and water bottle from the Qazaq Republic brand.
Clothing by the Qazaq Republic brand. Photo from https://www.instagram.com/p/CE_43Q7HmQY/.

Until recently the name of our people, language and country has almost always been spelled in English as “Kazakh”, but nowadays “Qazaq” is becoming used as well. “What’s the deal with the different spellings?”, you might wonder.

It all depends on which language you use as the source of your transliteration (conversion of a text from one script to another). For the majority of the 20th century, our country was ruled by the Soviet government, and Russian was the dominant language, in fact enormous efforts were made to wipe out our native language. Anyway, in Russian, the term is КАЗАХ…

Alphabets, alphabets... Photo from https://www.languagetrainers.com/blog/2012/06/12/common-characters-between-latin-greek-and-cyrillic-alphabets/

I haven’t even started the translation process, and I already ran into my first issue: which alphabet to use for all of the Qazaq words and phrases in this book? The original book uses Cyrillic, but I think it makes more sense to use Latin in the English translation since it is for English speakers who may not know how to read Cyrillic. Now — if I do use Latin — Qazaq has 42 letters and Latin only has 26, so how will I express all of the extra Qazaq letters to readers?

I feel your pain, Qazaq government…


These are the chapters of Situational Qazaq, Book 1.

Screenshot of the Table of Contents of Situational Qazaq the iPhone app

Chapter 1: Tek — Ancestry

Chapter 2: Ui-ishi — Family

Chapter 3: Tugan-tuysqan — Relatives/Extended family

Chapter 4: Minez — Personality

Chapter 5: Mura — Legacy

Chapter 6: Kozqaras — Worldview

Chapter 7: Zhon bilu — Knowledge of etiquette

Chapter 8: Uilenu — Marriage

Chapter 9: Zherleu — Funeral

Chapter 10: Bata-tilek — Well wishes

Chapter 11: Maqal — Proverbs

Chapter 12: Idioms

Chapter 13: Attar — Names

Chapter 14: Ru turaly tapqyr sozder — Proverbs about “ru”s (Qazaq clans)

The Situational Kazak series by Kanat Tasibekov
The Situational Kazak series by Kanat Tasibekov
The Situational Qazaq series by Qanat Tasibekov. Photo from https://bilimdinews.kz/?p=51358.

Hi! I’m Aselle, and I love the book series, Situational Qazaq, by Qanat Tasibekov. The series consist of three books. The first one explains the Qazaq life (milestones and traditions from birth to burial) and provides relevant Qazaq phrases. This book is available as a free app in the App Store and on Google Play. The second book is structured as a conversation between several characters who discuss modern issues in Qazaq society, such as Islam, interethnic marriage, and Qazaqstan’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. The third book is a comprehensive phrasebook of idioms. …


Hi, I’m Aselle, and I love languages.

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