Kazakh (Қазақ тілі / Qazaq tili / قازاق ٴتىلى)

Kazakh is a member of the Kipchak branch of the Turkic language family. It is spoken mainly in Kazakhstan, China and Uzbekistan and also in Iran, Mongolia, Turkey and other countries. In 2009 there were about 12.8 million speakers of Kazakh: about 10 million in Kazakhstan, 1.25 million in China, almost 1 million in Uzbekistan, and about 100,000 in Mongolia.

Kazakh is spoken in the northeast of China in Gansu and Qinghai provinces and in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In Uzbekistan it is spoken in Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic. In Mongolia it is spoken in Bayan-Olgiy and Hovd provinces.

Kazakh is also known as Qazaq, Kaisak, Kazak, Kosach, Kazax, Gazaqi, Kazakhi or Qazaqi. The word Kazakh comes from the ancient Turkic word qaz (to wander). The word cossack comes from the root [source].

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.

Since 2006, as part of a modernization program, the government of Kazakhstan decided to replace the Cyrillic alphabet with the Latin alphabet. The switch to the Latin alphabet official started in October 2017, and is expected to be complete by 2025.

More details: The Astana Times

Arabic alphabet for Kazakh

Arabic alphabet for Kazakh

Latin alphabet for Kazakh (Qazaq latin álipıi)

This version of the Latin alphabet was adopted in October 2017, and amended in 2018 and 2019.

Latin alphabet for Kazakh

Cyrillic alphabet for Kazakh (Қазақ кирилл әліпбиі)

Cyrillic alphabet for Kazakh

Hear a recording of the Kazakh alphabet

Hear some Kazakh alphabet with examples:


Download alphabet charts for Kazakh (Excel)

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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Sample videos in Kazakh

Information about Kazakh | Phrases | Numbers | Tower of Babel | Learning materials


Information about the Kazakh language

Online Kazakh lessons

Kazakh phrases

Online Kazakh dictionaries

Online Kazakh translation

Kazakh transliteration

Online Kazakh news and radio

Turkic languages

Altay, Äynu, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Chagatai, Chelkan, Chulym, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Dolgan, Fuyu Kyrgyz, Gagauz, Karachay-Balkar, Karaim, Karakalpak, Karamanli Turkish, Kazakh, Khakas, Khalaj, Khorasani Turkic, Krymchak, Kyrgyz, Nogai, Old Turkic, Qashqai, Salar, Shor, Siberian Tatar, Soyot, Tatar, Teleut, Tofa, Turkish, Turkmen, Tuvan, Urum, Uyghur, Uzbek, Western Yugur, Yakut

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

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