The Kazakh language comes from the Turkic languages. People write Kazakh in the Cyrillic alphabet, which has 33 letters. Nine special symbols have been added to express sounds in Kazakh. Kazakhs have used three different alphabets over the last century: Arabic, Roman (also used for English and French) and Cyrillic.

The Soviet regime insisted that Kazakhstanis all speak and learn Russian. Today Kazakh is the national language. Many Kazakhs speak Russian well, though most people of Russian descent do not speak Kazakh. One goal of the new country is for everyone to learn Kazakh. Because it is difficult to change a country's language, Kazakhstanis are making the switch gradually. Russian is still the main language of business, government and schools. It is officially called the "language of inter-ethnic communication" in this multicultural country. 

News programs and dramas are broadcast on state television in Kazakh and Russian. There are also German and Korean radio programs. Newspaper readers can choose among independent papers in several languages.

  Did you know?
Many Kazakh people consider naming a child after a relative bad luck. It implies that the child is replacing that person.
  English   Kazakh   Russian
  Hello   Salamatsyz ba?    Zdrastvuti
  How are you?   Khal zhagh-dayyngyz qalay?   Kak dyilah?
  I am well   Zhaqsy    Kharasho
  What is your name?   Atengez kim?   Kak vas zavut?
  Yes   Ia   Da
  No   Zhoq   Nyet
  Goodbye   Qosh-sau bolyngdar    Dasvidanye