Kazakh Languge and Literature

Kazakh language

Kazakh culture is also represented in Kazakh language and literature.

Kazakh is a Turkic language and is similar to other Turkic languages, such as Ozbek, Kyrgyz, Turkish, etc. It is agglutinative language with a vowel harmony, like other Turkic languages.

Kazakh is written using Cyrillic alphabet, though Kazakhs, living in China still use Arabic-derived alphabet as 100 years ago. Kazakh was also written in Latin alphabet in 1920s, thus being changed several times in XX century. Nowadays a switch to Latin alphabet is being discussed.

Russian is also widely used in Kazakhstan and is spoken almost everywhere.

Useful phrases for tourists:
Welcome - Қош келдіңіз! (Qosh, keldiñiz!)
Hello (General greeting) - Сәлем! (Sälem!) – inf*;  Сәлеметсіз бе? (Sälemetsiz be?) – frm*
How are you? - Қалыңыз қалай? (Qalıñız qalay?) - frm; Қалың қалай? (Qalıñ qalay?) - inf; Қалайсың? (Qalaisıñ?) - inf
Reply to 'How are you?' - Жақсы (Jaqsı); Қалым жақсы (Qalım jaqsı); Аман-есен (Aman-yesen)
What's your name? - (Сіздің) атыңыз кім? (Sizdiñ atıñız kim?) frm; (Сенің) атың кім? (Seniñ atıñ kim?) inf
My name is ... - Менің атым ... (Meniñ atım ...)
Where are you from? - Қай жердікісіз? (Qay jerdikisiz?)
I'm from ... - Мен ... (Men ...)
Pleased to meet you - Танысқанымызға қуаныштымын! (Tanısqanımızğa qwanıshtımın!)
Goodbye - Сау болыңыз! (Saw bolıñız!)
Have a nice day - Күніңіз жақсы өтсін! (Küniñiz jaqsı ötsin)
Bon appetit / Have a nice meal - Ас болсын! (As bolsın!) - inf; Асыңыз дәмді болсын! (Asıñız dämdi bolsın!) - frm; Ас дәмді болсын! (As dämdi bolsın!) - gen*
Bon voyage / Have a good journey - Жолыңыз болсын! (Jolıñız bolsın!)
I don't understand - Мен түсінбеймін (Men tüsinbeymin)
Please speak more slowly - Ақырындап сөйлеңізші (Aqırındap söyleñizshi)
Please write it down - Осыны жазып бере аласыз ба? (Osını jazıp bere alasız ba?)
Do you speak Kazakh? - Қазақша сөйлейсіз бе? (Qazaqsha söylejsiz be?)
How do you say ... in Kazakh? - ... қазақша қалай айтылады? (... qazaqsha qalay aytıladı?)
How much is this? - Бұл қанша тұрады? (Bul qansha turadı?)
Excuse me/Sorry - Кешіріңіз! (Keshiriñiz!)
Thank you - Рахмет! (Rahmet!) - gen
Reply to thank you - Оқасы жоқ! (Oqası joq!) - gen
Where's the toilet? - Дәретхана қай жерде? (Därethana qay jerde?); Әжетхана қай жерде? (Äjethana qay jerde?)
I love you - Мен сені сүйемін! (Men seni süyemin!) - inf; Мен сені жақсы көремін! (Men seni jaqsı köremin!) - inf; Мен сізді сүйемін! (Men sіzdi süyemin!) - frm; Мен сізді жақсы көремін! (Men sіzdi jaqsı köremin!) - frm
Help! - Көмектесіңіз! (Kömektesiñiz!)
Fire! - Өрт! (Ört!)
Stop! - Тоқта! (Toqta!)
Call the police! - Полицияны шақырыңыз! (Polïcïyanı şaqırıñız!)
*inf – informal
*frm - formal
*gen - general
Source: http://www.omniglot.com/language/phrases/kazakh.php


Kazakh literature

Kazakh language is very poetic and rich in metaphors, which are used not only in poems and novels, but also in everyday language of people.

Highly poetic nature of Kazakh language has been perfect for the development of Kazakh poetry from ancient times.

Easy to remember Kazakh poetry was delivered from ‘father to son’ from centuries to centuries, sometimes slightly modified, sometimes with creation of completely different variants, with happier ending than in the original, etc…

One of the examples of such folklore are epic poems and love poems. These are true stories of love and braveness of heroes, in the form of long poems, which generally reflect history of Kazakh people. Many of them are based on true stories: e.g. a mausoleum of Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu (Kazakh Romeo and Juliette) in East Kazakhstan is a monument to their eternal love and a proof of their beautiful love story.

XIX-XX centuries were probably the period, when the most beautiful poems and novels were created by Abay Kunanbayuly, Magzhan Zhumabayuly, Zhusipbek Aymautuly, Shakerim Kudayberdiuly, and many others.

Abay Kunanbayuly (1845-1904) is a Kazakh poet, writer, composer, philosopher and translator. Abay's creations open a new stage of Kazakh realistic literature. Main topics of his works are the call to goodness, knowledge, culture, honest labour, justice, love for people and native land. The winter residence of Abay in East Kazakhstan region is now a museum and is visited by many tourists every year.

Prose, or novels emerged as a new kind of word art in the beginning of XX century, with the emergence of written literature. The first novel in Kazakh is considered Unhappy Zhamal by Mirzhakyp Dulatuly.

Political situation of the period, culture, way of life, people’s beliefs were reflected in the novels, written in this period and many of them were forbidden during by the Soviet regime.

One of the writers of this period was Saken Seifullin. Saken Seifulin Museum in the old centre of Astana displays the history of his life and those who lived during the difficult years in the beginning of XX century.


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