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Kazakh (Қазақ тілі / Qazaq tili / قازاق ٴتىلى)

Kazakh or Qazaq is a Turkic language spoken in Kazakhstan, Russia and China by about 11 million people. There are also Kazakh speakers in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran.

Kazakh at a glance

  • Native name: Qazaqşa, Қазақша [qɑˈzɑqʃɑ] / Қазақ тілі, Qazaq tili, قازاق ٴتىلى‎ [qɑˈzɑq tɘˈlɘ]
  • Linguistic affliation: Turkic, Kipchak, Kipchak-Nogay
  • Number of speakers: c. 11 million
  • Spoken in: Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia, Iran
  • First written: 19th century
  • Writing system: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets
  • Status: official language in Kazakhstan, and in the Altai Republic in Russia

Kazakh was first written with the Arabic script during the 19th century when a number of poets, educated in Islamic schools, incited revolt against Russia. Russia's response was to set up secular schools and devise a way of writing Kazakh with the Cyrillic alphabet, which was not widely accepted. By 1917, the Arabic script was reintroduced, even in schools and local government.

In 1927, Kazakh nationalist movement sprang up but was soon suppressed. At the same time the Arabic script was banned and the Latin alphabet was imposed for writing Kazakh. The Latin alphabet was in turn replaced by the Cyrillic alphabet in 1940.

Recently as part of a modernization program the government of Kazakhstan has stated plans to replace the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet. Currently the costs and consequences of such a move are being investigated.

Arabic alphabet for Kazakh

Arabic alphabet for Kazakh

Latin alphabet for Kazakh (Qazaq latin älipbïi)

Latin alphabet for Kazakh

Cyrillic alphabet for Kazakh (Қазақ кирилл әліпбиі)

Cyrillic alphabet for Kazakh

Hear a recording of the Kazakh alphabet


Sample text in the Arabic alphabet

بارلىق ادامدار تۋمىسىنان ازات جانە قادىر‐قاسىييەتى مەن كۇقىقتارى تەڭ بولىپ دۇنىييەگە كەلەدى. ادامدارعا اقىل‐پاراسات، ار‐وجدان بەرىلگەن، سوندىقتان ولار بىر‐بىرىمەن تۋىستىق، باۋىرمالدىق قارىم‐قاتىناس جاساۋلارى ٴتىيىس.

Sample text in the Latin alphabet

Barlıq adamdar twmısınan azat jäne qadir-qasïyeti men quqıqtarı teñ bolıp dünïyege keledi. Adamdarğa aqıl-parasat, ar-ojdan berilgen, sondıqtan olar bir-birimen twıstıq, bawırmaldıq qarım-qatınas jasawları tïis.

Sample text in the Cyrillic alphabet

Барлық адамдар тумысынан азат және қадір-қасиеті мен кұқықтары тең болып дүниеге келеді. Адамдарға ақыл-парасат, ар-ождан берілген, сондықтан олар бір-бірімен туыстық, бауырмалдық қарым-қатынас жасаулары тиіс.

Barlıq adamdar tumısınan azat jäne qadir qasyeti men kûqıqtarı teŋ bolıp dünyege keledi. Adamdarġa aqıl parasat, ar ojdan berilgen, sondıqtan olar bir birimen tuıstıq, bauırmaldıq qarım qatınas jasauları tyis.


All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

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Information about Kazakh | Kazakh phrases | Tower of Babel in Kazakh | Kazakh learning materials


Information about the Kazakh language

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Kazakh transliteration

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Turkic languages

Other languages written with the: Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin alphabets