England vs Kazakhstan – A Kazakh Special

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In honour of the Kazakhstan football team’s visit to Wembley on Saturday the 11th October 2008, we thought we would run a Kazakh special here at Kwintessential.

>> Match Facts:

World Cup qualifier, Group Six, England v Kazakhstan
Venue: Wembley Stadium Date: Saturday, 11 October
Kick-off: 1715 BST
UK TV Coverage: ITV 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live


>> Did you know?

* The first manned orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin took off from launch facility Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan
* Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth biggest country and is one of the fastest-growing nations on earth, partly because of its oil and gas resources

>> Facts and Statistics:

* Location: Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural River in eastern-most Europe
* Capital: Astana
* Climate: continental, cold winters and hot summers, arid and semiarid
* Population: 15,284,929 (July 2007 est.)
* Ethnic Make-up: Kazakh (Qazaq) 53.4%, Russian 30%, Ukrainian 3.7%, Uzbek 2.5%, German 2.4%, Tatar 1.7%, Uygur 1.4%, other 4.9% (1999 census)
* Religions: Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%
* Government: republic; authoritarian presidential rule

>> Language in Kazakhstan:

Kazakhstan is a bilingual country: the Kazakh language, spoken by 64.4% of the population, has the status of the “state” language, while Russian, which is spoken by almost all Kazakhstanis, is declared the “official” language, and is used routinely in business. Kazakh (also Qazaq) is a Turkic language closely related to Nogai and Karakalpak.

>> Who are the Kazakhs?

The word “Kazakh” means “a free and independent nomad” in ancient Turkish. Kazakhs have travelled along the steppes of Kazakhstan from western China to the southern border of Russia for centuries.

For centuries Kazakhstan was a country of nomads and herders. Tribes were the basis of society; the tribe was constituted of family members and the family elders. Inter-tribal marriages were important in establishing security and peace. To this day, Kazakhs say, “the matchmaking lasts a thousand years, while the son-in-law lasts only a hundred.” Arranged marriages are still the norm in many parts of the country.

Mind your Kazak Manners:

Meeting People

* Greetings are rather formal
* The common greeting is the handshake, often done with both hands and a smile. Since many Kazakhs are Muslim, some men will not shake hands with women, so be sensitive to these religious differences
* Once you have developed a personal relationship, close friends of the same sex may prefer to hug rather than shake hands
* Most Kazakhs have a first and patronymic name (the father’s name followed by a suffix -ich or –ovich for son of or daughter of, respectively)
* Wait until invited before using someone’s first name

Dining Etiquette

* Kazakh’s are very hospitable people and enjoy hosting dinners at their homes
* You will be served tea and bread, even if you are not invited to a meal. Since Kazakhs consider bread to be sacred, serving bread is a sign of respect
* When served tea, your cup will often only be filled halfway. To fill the cup would mean that your host wanted you to leave
* Dress conservatively in clothing you might wear to the office. Kazakhs value dressing well over comfort. To dress too informally might insult your hosts
* Table manners are not terribly formal in Kazakhstan
* Table manners are Continental — the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating
* Some foods are meant to be eaten by hand
* Your host or another guest may serve you
* In more rural settings, you may sit on the floor
* You will be given a bowl to drink broth or tea. When you do not want any more, turn your bowl upside-down as an indication
* If alcoholic beverages are served, expect a fair amount of toasting
* Meals are social events. As such, they may take a great deal of time
* Leave something on your plate when you have finished eating. This demonstrates that you have had enough, whereas if you finish everything it means you are still hungry and you will be served more food
* Expect to be served second helpings

A Sheep’s Head

* In rural settings it is a sign of respect to offer the most honoured guest a boiled sheep’s head on a beautiful plate
* The guest then divides the food among the guests in the following fashion:
* The ear is given to the smallest child so that he or she will listen to and obey the elders
* The eyes are given to the two closest friends so that they will take care of the guest
* The upper palate is given to the daughter-in-law and the tongue to the host’s daughter so both women will hold their tongues
* The pelvic bones go to the second most respected guest
* The brisket is given to the son-in-law

Helpful Links:

* Currency – the currency of Kazakhstan is the Tenge (KZT). Use the free currency converter to compare to dollars, GBP, etc
* Dialling Code – the international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7
* Time – Kazakhstan is +4 GMT
* Doing Business? – business protocol in Kazakhstan

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