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Renaming Kazakhstan to get rid of ‘stan’ ending: opinions

26 february 2014, 11:33
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Caption from Tengrinews TV video
Caption from Tengrinews TV video
Earlier this month Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev proposed to rename Kazakhstan to Kazakh Eli to get rid of the ‘stan’ ending and make the name more authentic for the Kazakh culture.

Commenting on the proposed renaming, Director of the Valikhanov Institute of History of Ethnology Khankeldy Abzhanov points out that the word ‘Kazakhstan’ consists of two parts ‘Kazakh’ - the name of the ethnos - and ‘stan’ that means ’country’ in Persian. In the Kazakh language ‘El’ means ‘country’.

Dr. Abzhanov believes that what the president proposed “is the exact translation of the name of our county from Persian to Kazakh and the idea pursues the goal of restoring the fair historical name of the country”. Besides, he believes that the new name would help unify the nation.

Doctor of political science Dosym Satpayev offers a political explanation to the idea. The new name appeals to the national-patriotic youth in Kazakhstan. And these are the young people that would constitute a majority of the country’s electorate within 5-10 years. “That is why this sentiment will be among the main tools that many politicians will try to use” to round up supporters.

Besides, he pointed out, half jokingly, that if the county is renamed to Kazakh Eli “it will finally put an end to the debates about how Kazakhstan citizens are supposed to be called: Kazakhstanis or Kazakhs.”

Former member of the Majilis, the Lower Chamber of the Kazakhstan Parliament, is a vigorous supporter of the idea of renaming. Citing his twitter followers – 75% of whom are Kazakh-speaking young people – he says that the Internet was buzzing with joy at the prospect of renaming. “Some people just don’t understand the essence of it, they think that Kazakh Yeli is some artificial name made up by ideologists. But in fact it is the actual name of the Kazakh nation,” he says. It is like back to the roots for him.

He believes that international community is expecting changes from the dynamically developing Kazakhstan and that changing the name could be a good way to add on to the country’s image.



By Tatyana Kuzmina

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