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Yes, Kazakhstan should change its name. This map shows why.
February 11, 2014 7:35 PM   Subscribe

"Life-long Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has suggested changing his country's name to make it friendlier to investors and tourists. It's obviously a little silly to change your country's name for marketing purposes. But there may be more meaningful reasons for the country to change its name..." An interesting perspective from Max Fisher at the Washington Post.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (33 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Won't there be a Stan for every man?
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 PM on February 11


This is going to sound like an absurdly contrarian position, partly because it is, but president-for-life Nazarbayev is on to something here.

I don't understand this sentence. At face value, changing the country's name to something more distinctive (ie, ditch the "-stan" suffix that every country in the region seems to have) sounds like a good idea.

The way the blog post was written sounds sneeringly condescending.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:01 PM on February 11


... having a confused national identity does not in itself create crises. But the country has partly resisted these problems by being a dictatorship with little political competition and vast natural resources.

Well, that's one way to solve problems.

(I thought the digression about Thailand/Siam was actually more interesting than the point about Kazakhstan.)
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:07 PM on February 11


You may know it as Myanmar, but it will always be Burma to me.
posted by gimonca at 8:08 PM on February 11


The justification given in the article is that now that Kazakhstan is a much more diverse place that is so much more than just 'the land of the Kazakhs,' they should change its name to 'the country of the Kazakhs':

Kazakhstan means "land of the Kazakhs," which is the country's largest ethnic group. Nazarbayev's suggestion, "Kazak Yeli," means "country of the Kazakhs,"

That's.... ridiculous. Not wanting to be confused with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan is a perfectly legitimate, and sufficient, reason to change the name.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 8:14 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Kazaa, where freedom is free!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:16 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


They're just trying to shake off the bad publicity brought by parodies.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:23 PM on February 11


Legalize weed, call it Burnistan
posted by lordaych at 8:24 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


It's obviously a little silly to change your country's name for marketing purposes.

I don't see this as obvious at all.
posted by pompomtom at 8:30 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


president-for-life Nazarbayev

In the spirit of "the Kazakh Khanate" the country should be called "the Kazakh Presidency".

Alternatively, "Kazakhstan.com".
posted by XMLicious at 8:43 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


The one-word answer here is 'Borat'. That movie did that country no favours. The photos I've seen of the place are of a stunningly beautiful natural landscape and cities that look like The Future.

posted by jimmythefish at 8:57 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


president-for-life Nazarbayev

I think I spotted the thing that actually needs changing.
posted by mayhap at 9:38 PM on February 11 [13 favorites]


and cities that look like The Future.

Those cities look like the future now, but in the future they are going to look like a crappy past.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:46 PM on February 11


I found an article about how Kazakhs name their children. It's an interesting look at what many Kazakhs traditionally consider when choosing a name and may give some insight as to how that culture would chose name for something, but if this article is accurate (even if only in a traditional sense), the names that are listed as examples also reveal some rather tough and unpleasant aspects about life over there as well, influenced by their tribal history and social structure, superstitions, and difficult living conditions throughout their past.
posted by chambers at 9:56 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


'Kazakhstan' rolls off the tongue with greater ease than 'Kazak Yeli'. But both suffer from the bigger problem: your ethnic group has a difficult, unappealing name. You should consider changing it for marketing purposes. I propose you go for the big advertising royalties by calling yourselves Pepto Exlaxians.
posted by dgaicun at 10:03 PM on February 11


Or if that sounds too much like selling-out, Jews are a memorable ethnic group. How about Neo-Jews? Or Jewzaks?
posted by dgaicun at 10:05 PM on February 11


From "Max Fisher"? I saw this movie.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:12 PM on February 11


The justification given in the article is that now that Kazakhstan is a much more diverse place

But it isn't. It's far more Kazakh now than it was at any point in the last century.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 PM on February 11


Let's go all the way back: Scythia
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:14 PM on February 11 [11 favorites]


It's far more Kazakh now than it was at any point in the last century.

The reason for this is because of the ethnic Russian migration to and resulting exodus from the country following the breakup of the CIS (the successor to the USSR).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:34 PM on February 11


Let's go all the way back: Scythia

Such a cool and neglected part of the world! I'm in Japan for a few months, and, just down the road from where I am, there are a number of burial mounds (part of Japan's "kofun" or tumulus culture) dating back about 1500 years or so.

The tomb contains Turkomen jewellery. It's thought that a traveller from the Silk Road reached the area and married into the local nobility.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:52 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Very nice!
posted by dr_dank at 4:47 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Let's go all the way back: Scythia

Look, Andrew Bird even wrote them a (rather melancholy) national anthem, so they're all set.
posted by malphigian at 5:20 AM on February 12


Kazak Eli seems to be the more common spelling of the name in the English-language press (it's what the BBC and Radio Free Europe are using). The local romanization for sticklers is Qazaq Eli.
posted by gubo at 5:45 AM on February 12


Chambers, that link is fascinating, thanks for adding it
posted by rebent at 6:47 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Why not just Kazakhia?
posted by brokkr at 7:12 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


A great name to lure in tourists and investors would be "Oilboomia" and rename the capital "Legalizedgamblinggrad"
posted by Renoroc at 7:44 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


brokkr: Because in naming their country they want to use words/suffixes that come from their language, or at least from within their language family, maybe?
posted by seyirci at 9:55 AM on February 12


changing the country's name to something more distinctive (ie, ditch the "-stan" suffix that every country in the region seems to have)

[..]

Not wanting to be confused with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan is a perfectly legitimate, and sufficient, reason to change the name.


I imagine unfamiliarity causes the name confusion, not vice versa. At least, I've never heard of anyone having problems distinguishing between Scotland, Iceland, Ireland, England, and the Netherlands as a result of the affix they share.

(I have no opinion on Kazakhstan's name change, but I think -stan suffixes are cool.)
posted by threeants at 12:40 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Kyrgyzstan

Whenever I see the name Kyrgyzstan, I keep thinking that there aren't enough 'h's in it, and that it should be something like “Khyrghyzstan”.
posted by acb at 4:01 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


I think what the benevolent president for life is getting at is the -stan suffix has all sorts of negative connotations.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:35 PM on February 12


"Not wanting to be confused with Kyrgyzstan"

Kurganistan
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:13 PM on February 12 [3 favorites]


Kazakhstan: Lace underwear ban sparks protests
posted by homunculus at 4:36 PM on February 17


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