“Shala Kazakh” and other obstacles for the pure Kazakh

I respect people who speak a pure language. However I am acquainted with some obstacles that prevent us to speak the pure Kazakh.

1) “Shala Kazakh”

The “Shala Kazakh” is like an inborn disease for Kazakh language. In order to discuss and explain this issue I referred to a humorous presentation written and performed by actors of humorous theater named “Алдараспан” (Aldaraspan), one of the most popular theaters from South Kazakhstan Region. The theater is well-known not only for South Kazakhstan as they perform regular concerts all over Kazakhstan. All their presentations are in Kazakh but in many cases they intentionally mix Kazakh and Russian in order to show to the audience the Shala Kazakh issue. For instance in the presentation named “The hospital” a doctor shows different attitude towards different class in society. He biases social descent of people firstly by behavior and secondly by trying to speak pure Kazakh to people from the free-part of the hospital, whereas trying to perform more code switched language to the paid-part of the hospital. In my vision, these linguistic contexts features show that “upper class” in Kazakh society are more likely to speak the Shala Kazakh:

Мына жағы не платный ғой, не платное отделение(this part is free, the free part)

…Мына жағы платный… (this part is the paid one)

…Тихий час қой қазір… (Now is a “silent hour”)

…Зам.әкімнің баласы… (son of a co governor)

…Қай отделение?… (which part?)

…Давление тексеріп жатырмын(I am measuring blood pressure)

…Платный жақта тамақ көп… (there is a plenty of food on the paid part )

…4 пакет салып қойдың ба? Давай(Shall I put 4 packets? Ok then)

…Ассалаумағалейкум, брат… (Hello, brother)

…Брат, платный қай жағында?… (Brother, where is the paid part)

…БИП палата, VIP палата… (VIP chamber, VIP chamber)

…Түсінбейді тормоз… (Does not understand, dumb)


If Kazakh elite speaks Shala Kazakh, what should we expect from other people? As our Kazakh ancestors say: “A fish is rotten from its head”

2) Kazakh – Russian in one word (unique case)

The second aspect of this show worth paying attention for is the mixed morphology, in other words how Russian and Kazakh words and language elements were combined and used in one word. Obviously it was done in order to make an audience laugh over and understand how strange they sound in everyday life.  However, the use of these specific words for the most part of the presentation was made in light of group of onlookers as it pinpoints the words which are ordinarily used in that society widely. The tokens of style shifting in these unique case (as I call them!) can be seen in these examples:

…Шеш очкиді, пляжда жүрсің ба?… (take off your glasses, are you in a beach?)

Нервіне тиіп… (making nervous)

…Жатсай палатаңа!… (lay to tour chambers!)

…Крутойлар жатады… (place for cools)

…Шеш очкиді, пляжда жүрсің ба?… (take off your glasses, are you in a beach?)

Нервіне тиіп… (making nervous)

Переговорныйда тұрсың ба?… (are you in telephone office)

Духым жетпейді екен… (I am afraid to do so)


3) Tokens to identify an accent’s pattern (Southern)

 The last but not least obstacle for pure Kazakh I wanted to mark in this blog is that from the presentation I was able to identify the local belonging of the speakers according to the usage of some specific words that belong to one definite region. These words might not be found in other regions thus this can become another obstacle towards pure Kazakh . From here we can witness that the way speaker speaks and the words he uses can also show his/her identity:

  • Құдай алсын! (God forbid!)
  • Тоба (Strange)
  • Рең – басыңыз жақсы (you look good)
  • Миқоқ (dumb)
  • Няғып? (why?)
  • Өңшең (each/all)


My vision of this issue is that its always good to speak any language purely may it be Kazakh, English, Russian or any other language. I tried to mark my opinion by writing this blog, actors of Aldaraspan did it in humorous way. The purpose remained the same. Dear, visitors of the blog I suggest you to watch this video.What are your views? Do you try/prefer to speak the pure language?

Reference to the video:


References to the photos:






6 thoughts on ““Shala Kazakh” and other obstacles for the pure Kazakh

  1. Great work, Yasawi (5/5). This post is a clear extension of the debates and discussions central to your cohort. Thanks for sharing all the clear examples of the ways Kazakh varies from region to region and across class lines. Great questions for your peers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your blog! It is interesting to read about so called “Shala Kazakhs”. It is a popular topic for discussion. This term means that those people who are not fluent in Kazakh language are considered as half-Kazakhs. However, i disagree with the fact that this term relates to social class. I was born in a middle class family and i am not fluent in Kazakh. I try my best to learn it. We all should strive to learn our native language. However, purity is not so important. The most important thing is not to be shy to communicate with people. I wish that we would not be labeled as “Shala Kazakhs” as it sounds a bit negative…
    I have never heard about Aldaraspan program. I would love to watch it and learn some new phrases in Kazakh!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An interesting post with some thought-provoking issues raised!
    One thing I would like to ask you, as we are studying plurilingual individual and multilingual society courses, in which a way to multilingualism lies in drawing upon all of your linguistic resources to convey ideas and concepts in communication, do you think that “Shala-Kazakh” can be considered as a form of drawing upon two linguistic systems as resources in the process of communication?
    Do you think that maybe in some instances usage of Shala-Kazakh can be seen as acceptable, and in some it can be frowned upon?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing with the in-depth analysis of the video from comedy program. To be honest, I have watched such kinds of comedy programs for several times, but I never thought about mixing the laguages. Now I realize it. Regarding the question whether I am for or against speaking pure language, in my humble opinion, it depends on the situation. For example, in everyday life if someone is not so proficient in a particular language to express his/her thoughts the use of “mixing” language like “shala kazakh” is acceptable and welcomed. However, if the “shala kazakh” is used in very formal meetings, such as during the report of a mayor, it is not good. Personally I try to speak a pure language, but sometimes it becomes extremely difficult to find a right way for sharing my opinion in one language, and in these situations I have to use language shifting, or code-mixing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with previous authors that it is a very thought-provoking post. Let me share some thoughts and suggestions with you. First, you have found great examples of how not pure Kazakh is used in everyday speech. The only thing I would suggest is to mark with different colors the use of the Russian and Kazakh languages in the sentences so that it becomes more visual for people who do not know these languages. Also, what is your own definition of Shala-Kazakh language, besides its “not pure form”? And what you mean by pure Kazakh – standard Kazakh, literary or just without any loan words? Does only the presence of Russian words transform the Kazakh language in its “Shala” form or other languages also contribute to that?

      Liked by 1 person

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